Ola Aina Scores First Forest Goal, Denies Villa Top-Four Spot

Ola Aina Scores First Forest Goal, Denies Villa Top-Four Spot

*Wasteful Liverpool escape shock defeat at Luton

Duro Ikhazuagbe 

Nigerian international defender, Ola Aina, was on target as Nottingham Forest snapped a six-match winless run to beat Aston Villa 2-0 in a Premier League Midlands derby yesterday.

The win denied Villa top-four spot as Liverpool who snatched a late equaliser against Luton leapfrogged Arsenal to third. The Reds are in same 24 points as the Gunner but on better goal advantage.

The goal was 27-year old Aina’s first for Forest since switching from Torino on free transfer to the Premier League club two years ago.

Along with the second goal scored by  Orel Mangala, 

Forest are now out of the rock bottom of the table to 12th on 13 points.

The defeat also ended Villa’s six-match unbeaten run and left Unai Emery’s side in fifth place, five points behind leaders Manchester City.

Another Nigerian international, Taiwo Awoniyi was on for 82 minutes before he was substituted for Danilo.

Forest had not won a game since early September and the hosts took the lead inside five minutes when Anthony Elanga sprinted down the left and Villa’s high defensive line panicked. 

Elanga cut it back for Harry Toffolo, who put the ball into midfield space left vacant by the retreating defence and the unmarked Aina pulled the trigger from range to fire a low strike that flew into the bottom corner. 

It was a dent on Villa’s Emiliano Martinez, fresh off winning the Lev Yashin award for the best goalkeeper in the world at the Ballon d’Or gala in Paris.

Aina was enthused by his first goal for Forest.

“My goal was one to remember. I’m happy to get off the mark and help the team. We can all be proud, we stuck to the game plan, we dug in and fought for each other,” Aina told Sky Sports. 

The goal woke Villa up and they quickly began to dominate possession as Forest stood firm at the back to deny the visitors time and again. Villa had six corners by the end of the first half but could not find a way through. 

Just as in the first half, Forest struck early in the second when Martinez conceded another goal from outside the box with an uncharacteristic error. 

Mangala struck a ferocious shot that Martinez attempted to save with one hand, but the Argentine could only watch as the ball went up in the air and bounced inside the line as he failed to keep it out. 

The visitors desperately tried to claw their way back into the game but Steve Cooper’s side held on for the clean sheet and their first home win over Villa in the Premier League. 

Elsewhere, Luis Diaz came off the bench to salvage a point for Liverpool with a stoppage-time equaliser at Luton in his first match since his parents were kidnapped in Colombia.

Diaz’s father remains missing, and the forward lifted his shirt to show a message of “freedom for papa” after heading in Harvey Elliott’s cross five minutes into added time.

He later issued a statementcalling for those holding his father to release him “immediately”.

The 26-year-old former Porto player had last featured in a Liverpool squad 10 days ago, but manager Jurgen Klopp said before this match that Diaz “wanted to be part of the team”.

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