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Battling Forest make their point in enemy territory

FOREST ON FIRE: Nottingham Forest players enjoy their late magic moment

A LATE Henri Lansbury strike ensured Nottingham Forest took a share of the spoils away against Aston Villa in an enthralling four-goal second half.

It was the first time both former European Cup-winning sides had met since 1999 and Villa looked the brighter of the two teams in the first, somewhat dull in comparison to the second, 45 minutes at Villa Park.

Forest will thank their lucky stars for not conceding before the break as Scottish striker Ross McCormack hit the outside of the post, following good work down the right from new £15m signing Jonathan Kodjia, who delivered a fine, driven ball across the face of goal to pick out the striker.

And Forest’s debutant goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic, a summer signing from Israeli side Maccabi Haifa, was in inspired form all afternoon, and the vastly experienced stopper pulled off the first of a series of fine saves to deny Kodjia just before the interval.

The former Bristol City man Kodjia at the back stick must’ve thought he’d scored as he produced a powerful, downward header which saw the Serbian international goalkeeper get down low to his right to scramble the ball away to safety, after great work from Ghanaian Jordan Ayew.

But Philippe Montanier's Reds side have been in and around the goals recently, and it was Forest who took the lead in the 57th minute.

Apostolos Vellios opened his account for the club emphatically; picking up the ball from 25 yards, the Greek forward unleased a rasping effort which caught substitute Villa keeper Mark Bunn cold and flew into the net.

But Villa hit back 15 minutes later through McCormack. Roberto Di Matteo’s side’s equaliser came after the lively Ayew smashed an effort against the bar, while Stojkovic again expertly thwarted a header from Kodjia.

McCormack was put through by Ayew and he slotted past the Serb from eight yards out to level the scores in the 72nd minute.

Two minutes later, substitute Rudy Gestede put the home team in front; the former Blackburn man conjuring an acrobatic finish inside the area after a lung-busting run and delivery from the scintillating Ayew.

But the game wasn’t dead yet – far from it.

Reds sub Hildeberto Pereira, who picked up a booking following a melee which resulted from a Aly Cissokho challenge on Forest’s Ben Osborn, produced a moment of brilliance as he drove past three or four Villa players and surged into the box, before the ball fell in the path of Lansbury, who sent the ball into the top corner with the outside of his boot to send 3,000 travelling fans into jubilation.

But Pereira, 20, controversially received his second yellow for running to celebrate with the Forest faithful and was left bemused as referee Simon Hooper immediately pulled out the resultant red card in the 87th minute.

The Reds then showed plenty of resolve to hold on for a point with 10 men against a strong Villa side who sit 17th in the league after a disappointing start to life in the second tier, while Forest occupy 10th spot.

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