Nottingham Forest 0-1 Aston Villa: Karanka defeated in first game as Forest boss

Scott Hogan's early strike was enough to win the game for the visitors.

Nottingham Forest 0-1 Aston Villa: Karanka defeated in first game as Forest boss
Hogan celebrates the winner (photo: Getty Images / Neville Williams)
Notts Forest
0 1
Aston Villa
Notts Forest: Smith, Lichaj, Mancienne, Mills, Traore, Osborn, Cash (Ward 80), Clough (McKay 64), Brereton, Dowell, Vaughan (Bridcutt 80)
Aston Villa: Johnstone, Chester, Whelan (Bjarnason 46), Snodgrass, Hogan (Davis 83), Grealish, Hourihane, Hutton, Terry, Elmohamady, Adomah (Taylor 90)
SCORE: 0-1 Hogan 18

There was only one place on the planet that you could find two former European Cup winning teams playing against each other today and that was Nottingham.

Yet those glory days of the late 1970s and early 1980s could not feel further away for Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest fans. Villa were humbled by League One side Peterborough United in the FA Cup last weekend, whilst Forest are dropping further away from their promotion target. 

However, Forest did stun Arsenal in England's premier knockout competition last weekend to build some momentum going into new manager Aitor Karanka's first game in charge. The former Real Madrid player is a three-time winner of the Champions League himself and will be looking to drive Forest upwards.

Hogan opens the scoring with Villa's first strike of note

Karanka was greeted by a rousing standing ovation by the City Ground faithful as they sought to close the gap on Villa who were nestling in the play-off places before kick-off. Forest opened the game looking comfortable on the ball but with no real penetration, whilst Villa were keen to push forward with pace and power.

Robert Snodgrass posed a threat on the right flank for the visitors but was greeted by a couple of early strong challenges as space was quickly closed down by the hosts. Yet the first shot of note came for Forest. A powerful run by Ben Brereton was followed by a neat pass to Kieran Dowell before the midfielder laid the ball to Matty Cash who cut inside and shot straight at Sam Johnstone.

Despite his rough treatment early on, Snodgrass continued to toil away and eventually found room to deliver a telling cross. His whipped ball found Scott Hogan who peeled away from the Forest defence and beat Jordan Smith to the delivery to nudge the visitors in front.

Terry goes close before Forest take control of the ball but with limited output

Villa almost doubled their lead just five minutes later and it was that man Snodgrass pulling the strings again. His free-kick found John Terry, a doubt before the game, and his header cannoned against the crossbar.

After regaining composure, Forest began to offer a threat in wide areas and the Villa back four were pressed into a number of last-ditch clearances. Yet there were numerous other occasions when Karanka's side could have been more positive with their approach and appeared to show a lack of confidence despite last weekend's result against Arsenal.

The hosts were controlling possession for large chunks of the contest but could not unpick an organised Villa outfit defending with ten men behind the ball. Glenn Whelan was on hand to produce a brave block from Ben Osborn's vicious strike but Johnstone remained a spectator in the away goal.

Despite their territory and time on the ball, Forest looked a greater threat from set-pieces and Dowell bent an effort wide just before the break. Yet it was advantage Villa as the teams returned to the dressing rooms with plenty to reassess.

Villa start with a spark in the second

Whelan did not make it out for the second half, possibly feeling the effects of that Osborn strike, as Birkir Bjarnason took his place. Villa immediately came out on the offensive and an agile run by Snodgrass brought about a free-kick in a dangerous area. The Scotsman whipped the set-piece towards Smith's near post but the Forest goalkeeper was on hand to palm it away.

Steve Bruce had clearly sent his side out with a message to kill the game and a rampaging run by Albert Adomah resulted in the ball coming out to Jack Grealish. The midfielder took aim from range and curled his shot just wide.

Hogan then tested Smith after a run from deep was combined with a neat one-two at the feet of Conor Hourihane before the striker's quick effort stung the hands of Forest's shot-stopper.

Too little, too late for the home side

Forest's first opening of the half came after a mistake from James Chester. The Villa defender passed the ball straight to substitute Barrie McKay but he could not unleash any venom to test Johnstone with his strike.

As the home crowd began to fire up when a number of decisions went against them, the hosts began to push forward. Dowell's free-kick picked out Cash but the midfielder could not direct his header goalbound. The largely ineffective Brereton then clipped a pass to McKay who juggled the ball before scuffing his effort at Johnstone.

Dowell was beginning to look a threat for Forest and he unleashed a swerving strike from range that Johnstone could only punch wide. Meanwhile, Adomah had a goal rightfully chalked off at the other end when he strayed offside.

However, for all of Forest's endeavour in the final 20 minutes, it was not to be as they ultimately paid for a lack of positivity for large periods of the contest. In contrast, Aston Villa will be delighted to leave Nottingham with three points after a somewhat lacklustre display themselves.