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First-half blitz earns huge three points for Forest against Fulham in dogfight

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NOTTINGHAM FOREST fans unveiled a banner before the game which read: ‘Shut everything out and play your game’.

And Forest’s players did exactly that – with a display that suggests they have what it takes to put their four-point PSR penalty to one side and stay up regardless.

Morgan Gibbs-White celebrated making it 3-0 to Forest, with the Cottagers only able to notch one in reply after the break

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Morgan Gibbs-White celebrated making it 3-0 to Forest, with the Cottagers only able to notch one in reply after the breakCredit: Getty
Gibbs-White slotted home to complete an amazing first period

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Gibbs-White slotted home to complete an amazing first periodCredit: Reuters

Goals from Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chris Wood and Morgan Gibbs-White put them 3-0 up by half-time.

And the final margin could have been much greater as rampant Forest secured a first in seven games – hitting the woodwork twice.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side dominated to such an extent that his countryman Marco Silva made a TRIPLE first half substitution to try and stem the wave of Forest attacks.

The Fulham boss sent on Willian, Tom Cairney and Adama Traore after only 33 minutes as Silva’s game plan went out of the window.

It was the second quickest time a Premier League manager had made three first half changes – that was Stoke City’s then-boss Tony hauled off a trio at Sunderland in 2009.

Silva’s move saw Fulham rally after the break – but the damage had been done by then.

It means that since being dumped into the bottom three last month, Nuno’s side have collected four points from six.

The Forest boss said he was confident his players would not be relegated after the points were taken off them.

But Nuno will be the first to make it clear that there is still work to do – as they are still just three points above the danger zone.

Rejuvenated Forest took the lead after nine minutes when a superb pinpoint pass from Gibbs-White on the halfway line found Hudson-Odoi out left.

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He cut inside and picked his spot before firing a shot into the far corner for his fifth goal of season.

The same combination should have made it two just six minutes later.

Gibbs-White set Hudson-Odoi free, but his first touch let him down and Fulham keeper Bernd Leno recovered.

But it was only a temporary respite for Silva’s side.

Wood added the second with his third goal in successive games.

His back-header against Crystal Palace on Saturday was a quirky piece of quick-thinking – and this was off the same blueprint.

Wood collected a Murillo ball, before turning and scoring from 25 yards with a shot that completely wrong-footed a stranded Leno.

Forest were attacking at will and Gibbs-White set up Anthony Elanga whose shot struck the far post.

Silva had seen enough and sent on three subs.

Last season, Fulham scored three times in six minutes to secure a City Ground victory.

But there was no real hint of a comeback when Gibbs-White’s one-two with Danilo ended with the England Under-21 forward sliding home number three in first half stoppage time.

Callum Hudson-Odoi planted this opener for Forest

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Callum Hudson-Odoi planted this opener for ForestCredit: Reuters

Fulham could not have played any worse – and presumably, Silva made his feelings known during the break.

But they pulled one back four minutes into the second half when Tosin Adarabioyo headed home from an Andreas Pereira corner.

Forest wide man Neco Williams went down in the area under a challenge from Antonee Robinson, but ref Michael Oliver rejected the penalty claims.

Matt Turner – Forest’s sub keeper – was then booked in the technical area for what looked like dissent.

The American reacted with surprise and urged the raucous home crowd to make even more noise in the closing stages.

Forest might have had a fourth goal after 65 minutes when Williams hammered a shot against the bar.

But Fulham knew a second goal would set up a nervy finish for Nuno’s men and keeper Matz Sels turned an Adarabioyo around the post.

Forest finished strongly though and Danilo fired an angled shot narrowly over the bar – before sub Divock Origi drove wide of the far post in stoppage time.

Even then, Fulham made one last-gasp attempt at a grandstand finish as Traore hit the post.

Tosin Adarabioyo nodded home soon after the break but in vain

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Tosin Adarabioyo nodded home soon after the break but in vainCredit: Getty

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