Toral misses early penalty before opening the scoring in the first ten minutes
As the hosts looked to overturn a run of three consecutive defeats, started by an FA Cup defeat to Hull, manager Aitor Karanka made just one change to the side that were handsomely defeated by Fulham last weekend. Young striker Ben Brereton was left out of the squad altogether as Apostolos Vellios started up front with the returning Daryl Murphy taking a place on the bench. Jack Colback and Costel Pantilimon lined up for their home debuts whilst Adlene Guedioura returned to the City Ground for his second spell at the club.
For the visiting Tigers, it was a welcome return for Will Keane who made his first start since suffering knee ligament damage in November 2016. The striker was one of three changes to the side that lost to Preston North End last weekend as Nouha Dicko, Fraizer Campbell and David Meyler were replaced by Keane, Jon Toral and Harry Wilson. Manager Nigel Adkins was looking for only his second league win as Hull manager with the side languishing in the drop zone.
Forest immediately came out with an added intensity to their game compared to recent weeks with Guedioura pulling the strings in midfield. Yet the hosts' optimism looked as if it was going to be thwarted as early as the seventh minute when they lost their organisation in defence. Harry Wilson found himself in acres of space before being chopped down in the penalty area by Joe Worrall. Toral stepped up only for his penalty struck straight down the middle to be kept out by Pantilimon. However, the midfielder was about to make amends within a matter of seconds.
Seb Larsson whipped in the resulting corner straight onto the head of Toral who glanced a deflected effort past Pantilimon to give the visitors an early advantage.
Cash hits the post before Wilson benefits from sloppy Forest passing
Vellios had looked bright in attack for the hosts in the early stages and spotted Allan McGregor off his line before crunching a long-range effort wide as he sensed an immediate equaliser.
Yet Forest's penetration had been blunted and they started to continuously pass the ball astray in midfield. Jarrod Bowen should have done better when latching onto one of those loose balls but could only bend his effort well wide of the target.
However, the hosts sparked into life as they took the ball down the other end. Matty Cash drifted off the right-wing before cracking an effort off the post with his left foot.
Forest were unable to build momentum from that chance and continued to play sloppy passes across the pitch. Captain Michael Mancienne knocked the ball straight to Bowen who released Keane only for the striker's volley to be deflected over by Worrall.
It was surely only a matter of time before Karanka's side were made to pay and that was the case on 38 minutes. After another attack broke down, Hull countered through Bowen once again. The midfielder released Keane wide on the right who provided a delightful ball across the face of the box for Wilson to slide home the Tigers' second.
It could have been more before the break as Worrall failed to deal with a hopeful hook forward from Larsson. Keane latched onto the loose header and combined with Toral before the striker saw his strike palmed away by Pantilimon.
Forest players departed the pitch to jeers at half-time knowing that they had to score as many goals as they had netted in their last seven league games just to draw level.
Formation change provides more penetration for the home side
Karanka had to try something different and he did just that as he replaced defender Eric Lichaj with attacking midfielder Lee Tomlin. The substitute looked to make an instant impact on his home debut and a skilful run down the left preceded a deft pass with the outside of his right foot. Guerdioura looked to latch onto the ball but could not sort his feet out as he failed to make any meaningful contact when through on goal.
Forest had clearly received a rocket from Karanka at half-time and another chance fell to them inside the Hull box. Ola Aina failed to clear his lines but Ben Osborn could not create enough space to unleash a strike on goal.
With a change to three at the back, the hosts had left space on the flanks which Larsson exploited with a burst of space. The midfielder played a dangerous ball across the box that Keane could not get a decent contact on before Bowen fired over when one of them should have made it 3-0.
Kieran Dowell had been largely ineffective but almost came up with a goal from nowhere as Forest failed to give up. A poor Keane header in his own box fell to the feet of Dowell who ripped a volley just over.
Tigers blunt the Forest response
As both managers made various substitutions, the game descended into a scrappy affair. Hull neglected to throw players forward whilst Forest continued to struggle with their attempt to string any number of consecutive passes together.
Quick feet from debutant Joe Lolley forced Aina into a smart block on his own line before fellow substitute Murphy glanced wide for the hosts in injury time.
Home fans left in their droves before the full-time whistle but those that stayed displayed their displeasure. The result ensures Hull climb out of the drop zone whilst Forest slip to a fourth consecutive defeat that leaves them just seven points above the relegation places.