Nuno Espirito Santo insists Nottingham Forest “still have to finish the job” of securing their Premier League safety when they face Burnley at Turf Moor.

Three points clear of 18th-place Luton Town in 17th, Forest are all but safe from relegation, while it would take an unlikely 12-goal swing in the Hatters’ favour to usurp them.

Nevertheless, Nuno is not taking anything for granted and has called for focus from his players, who he saluted for their efforts throughout the campaign. 

"We still have to finish the job," he said. "But credit to the players because it was not an easy season. We have always been able to compete really well in games. 

"The feeling is always that we should have been better. We have never felt that someone beat us; it was just that we let games get away from us.

"Yes, in certain games we have been punished, but we have always been a team that wants to attack and score. That is part of our identity.

"There is still a game to go, and we know how football can go. It is best that we prepare the same way with commitment. We are clear about everything that can happen. It is up to us to achieve what we want."

Meanwhile, Burnley are preparing for life back in the Championship, with their immediate return secured after last weekend’s defeat at Tottenham.

And Vincent Kompany says the match marks the first step towards the Clarets' recovery from their disappointment.

"If we're treating this as the first game of next season, in terms of preparing for next season, then this game is an important game," he said.

"You only really fail if you fail to learn and that's not the case for us. We've absolutely learned. There is no lack of motivation, no lack of desire. 

"It's sometimes in human nature to sit down and sulk, to feel sorry for yourself. That is not in the culture here, it's not in my nature, the nature of many people here. 

"We try to give that to the players – that's ultimately what is going to give them a chance to achieve their goals."


Burnley – Dara O'Shea

O'Shea has been directly involved in two of the last three goals Burnley have scored at Turf Moor (one goal, one assist).

The defender will look to build on that against a Forest side that has conceded 23 goals from set-pieces this season, with only three teams ever letting more in during a single Premier League campaign.

Nottingham Forest – Chris Wood

Wood is the highest scorer in Burnley’s Premier League history, having netted 49 times for the Clarets in the competition between 2017 and 2022.

The striker will aim to become the fifth player to score a Premier League goal against Burnley having previously played for them in the division, after Andre Gray, Danny Ings, Michael Keane and Patrick Bamford.


Forest are without a win in each of their last six league meetings with Burnley since a 2-0 victory in December 2012, with four of those ending in a draw.

The Tricky Trees have failed to win their final league game in each of the last four seasons, since beating Bolton Wanderers 1-0 in 2018-19.

Meanwhile, Burnley have lost their final Premier League game in each of their last six campaigns at this level.

The Clarets have also won only twice at home this season. Failure to win here would mean this is the fewest wins they have ever recorded in front of their fans in a single campaign.

Kompany’s side will need to tighten up in order to avoid that, though, having conceded at least once in each of their last 19 Premier League matches.


Burnley: 35.9%
Nottingham Forest: 34.8%
Draw: 29.3%

Mauricio Pochettino reiterated he plans to still be in charge of Chelsea next season following his side's remarkable win over Nottingham Forest.

Chelsea made it three wins in a row - and four without defeat - thanks to a battling 3-2 victory in Saturday's Premier League clash at City Ground.

Pochettino has repeatedly had his position called into question this season, but the Blues' upturn in form has changed all that.

Speaking on the eve of the Forest game, the Argentinian said he would stay as long as owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali were happy.

And asked again about his future by Sky Sports after the match, Pochettino said: "I had an honest conversation in the press conference. 

"To clarify, if the owner is happy with my job we can continue. I am always a coach who is thinking long term. 

"All departments must be happy for us to be a good team to compete. I still have one more year in my contract and I am thinking to be here."

Chelsea found themselves behind against Forest when Mykhailo Mudryk's opener was cancelled out by Willy Boly and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

However, Raheem Sterling equalised on 80 minutes and fellow substitute Reece James assisted Nicolas Jackson's winner two minutes later.

The 35 points Chelsea have collected since Boxing Day has been bettered only by top three sides Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.

"The best thing is the way that we always believe until the end," Pochettino said after his side's latest victory. "Football is about fighting. 

"I am pleased because the players from the bench made a big impact so I am happy with our recovery. 

"It was important for the team to finish the season strong, with the hope to start next season really well.

"If we are honest, we were punished in our first 10 games. Our performance was good but we were not clinical and we wasted big chances. 

"All the data said we were in a false position. After we beat Tottenham, in the last 24 games we are in the top four or five.

"I want to be positive, that is important. We have struggled in these type of games but this young team need to realise how we need to compete."

Chelsea are level on points with sixth-place Newcastle United, who occupy a Europa Conference League play-off spot.

Tottenham are six points better off in a Europa League spot, meanwhile, with two games left to play for both sides.

Asked if his side can still qualify for Europe, Pochettino said: "I hope, yes. But there are still two big games."

Mauricio Pochettino says it would not be "the end of the world" if he were to leave Chelsea at the end of the season.

The Blues have lost just one of their last 12 matches in the Premier League, and they thrashed West Ham 5-0 in their last game to make it four home wins on the bounce.

Chelsea now sit in seventh place with a place in Europe next season within their reach, but rumours continue to spread that Pochettino’s future at the club is not safe.

Pochettino stressed that he wants to be involved in the conversations about the club’s plans at the end of the season, which is when a decision will be made.

He said: "If we are happy, perfect. But it is not only if the owners are happy or the sporting directors happy... You need to ask us also, because maybe [we] say, ‘we are not happy’ and we accept the situation, and we need to split.

“It is not going to be the first time the coaching staff at the end of the season decide to not keep going. But at this end, it is always the opposite way. It is always the owners or the sporting directors.

"If we split it’s not a problem, it will not be the end of the world."

At the other end of the table, Nottingham Forest boosted their survival hopes with a 3-1 win over already-relegated Sheffield United last Saturday to move three points clear of the drop.

With Forest still not safe with two games to go, Nuno Espirito Santo admitted this was his toughest season as a manager so far.

"It’s been hard but I’m repeating myself. Since day one we embraced the challenge," said Nuno.

"There were a lot of things we were not expecting, but we dealt with them in the proper moment and in the right way. With the right attitude and working together, we can overcome the obstacles, and we have had a lot."


Nottingham Forest – Chris Wood

Wood has scored more goals than any other Nottingham Forest player in the Premier League this season (12). However, in 11 meetings with Chelsea in the competition, he has never found the back of the net, something he will want to change at the weekend.

Chelsea – Cole Palmer

Palmer has been involved in 30 Premier League goals this season, scoring 21 and assisting nine.

The last Chelsea player to be involved in more was Eden Hazard in 2018-19 (31 – 16G 15A), while 2009-10 was the last time a Blues player scored more in a league campaign (Didier Drogba 29, Frank Lampard 22).


Chelsea have lost just one of their last 12 Premier League games (W6 D5), though they are winless in their last five away from home (D4 L1).

The Blues have won just two of their last 10 away league games against Forest (D4 L4), winning 1-0 in November 1994 and 3-1 in February 1999.

Following their 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge in September, Forest are looking to complete their first league double over Chelsea since 1978-79, when they were reigning top-flight champions under Brian Clough.

Indeed, Forest have only lost their final home league match in one of their six previous Premier League campaigns (W4 D1), doing so against Sheffield United in 1992-93 with a 2-0 defeat that confirmed their relegation.

Chelsea’s Premier League games have seen 129 goals this season (F70 A59), the third most after Sheffield United (135) and Newcastle (134). Only in 2009-10 (135) have the Blues' games produced more goals (F103 A32).


Nottingham Forest – 25.5%

Draw – 27.6%

Chelsea – 46.9%

Nottingham Forest have been unsuccessful in their appeal against a four-point deduction for breaching the Premier League's profit and sustainability rules.

In March, Forest were deducted four points after admitting to breaching the league's financial rules by overspending by £34.5million over a three-year assessment period ending last season.

Everton have also lost eight points to two separate deductions, having been found to have breached the rules in the period culminating in 2022-23 and the period ending last campaign.

Forest's penalty dropped them into the thick of the relegation battle, with the club saying they were "extremely dismayed by the tone and content" of the Premier League's submissions to an independent commission and pledging to appeal.

Forest argued their lack of recent Premier League history placed them at a disadvantage to other clubs and said the sale of Brennan Johnson to Tottenham, which went through last September after the end of the assessment period, was within the "spirit" of sustainability.

The club's appeal against their penalty was heard on April 24, but an appeal board decided to uphold the punishment, which was itself more lenient than that requested by the Premier League.

In a statement released on Monday, the Premier League said: "The PSR sanction applied to the assessment period ending in season 2022-23 and was appealed by the club on two grounds. 

"The club argued that the independent commission committed an error in not treating its sale of a high-profile player shortly after the assessment period as a mitigating factor, and that it committed a further error in electing not to suspend some or all of the points deduction it imposed. 

"Each of these grounds was rejected by the appeal board, which found the independent commission was entitled to immediately impose the sanction it did. The four-point deduction will therefore remain in place."

It means Forest stay 17th in the table with 29 points, having pulled three clear of 18th-placed Luton Town by beating already-relegated Sheffield United 3-1 on Saturday.

Nuno Espirito Santo's team face Chelsea and Burnley in their final two games of 2023-24, with Luton likely to need at least four points from meetings with West Ham and Fulham to overhaul them.

Burnley, down in 19th, need to win their last two matches – against Tottenham and Forest – to have any chance of avoiding the drop.   

Vincent Kompany refused to admit defeat as Burnley slipped closer to Premier League relegation after a 4-1 thrashing by Newcastle United at Turf Moor.

The Clarets' heavy defeat, coupled with Nottingham Forest's 3-1 win over Sheffield United on Saturday, leaves Burnley five points adrift of safety with just two games remaining.

Burnley's loss was their 22nd in the Premier League this season (W5 D9), only in 2009-10 (24) and 1975-76 (23) have the Clarets lost more times in a Football League campaign.

Yet Kompany attempted to find the positives in the performance, suggesting there is still a chance his side take it to the final day against fellow relegation-battlers Forest.

"In the end I am not beaten or defeated by it personally in terms of my attitude," said Kompany.

"They are a good side with phenomenal attacking players, midfielders comfortable on the ball and aggressive in other situations.

"We never let this game die, the result and score was done but we kept going, kept threatening and that is all I can ask my players to do.

"For us, we have to look at that [next] Tottenham game as the final game of the season. If the opposition teams lose and we win, what are you going to write then? That's all it is.

"If they lose and we win, all of a sudden we have a different discussion before the next game. If we get a bonus with a game against Forest, then that's our final, that's how we have to look at it."

Callum Wilson, Sean Longstaff, Bruno Guimaraes and Alexander Isak – the latter who saw a second-half penalty saved, too – were all on target in a home humbling for Burnley.

Dara O'Shea's late consolation goal mattered for little as this disappointing result was made more painful by Forest winning at Bramall Lane.

Nuno Espirito Santo's 17th-placed side fell behind to Ben Brereton Diaz's penalty, only for Callum Hudson Odoi's brace and a second-half finish from Ryan Yates to save the day.

Blades manager Chris Wilder was left aggrieved, though, as his already-relegated United wanted a free-kick for a foul on Brereton Diaz in the build-up to Yates' goal that made it 2-1.

"I will let you put two and two together. I think it is a pretty easy, comfortable decision for everybody to make because of the situation," Wilder said, seemingly referencing Forest's recent problems with refereeing.

"I will let you decide on that situation. I'm not going to get dragged into that debate, a foul is a foul, whether it is a push in any part of the pitch.

“For me it is a foul, people tell me the game has moved on, you could say Ben needs to be stronger, but there is no need for him to go down like that, you can see he has two hands in his back.

"They score from that opportunity, we go 2-1 down."

Forest's top-flight safety could be secure before they face Chelsea next Saturday, with Burnley needing victory away against Tottenham to take their survival hopes to the final day.

Nuno Espirito Santo says Nottingham Forest should expect the unexpected from already-relegated Sheffield United when they travel to Bramall Lane on Saturday.

The Tricky Trees are currently on a four-game winless run as they sit just one point clear of the relegation zone, though that could change if Luton Town beat Everton on Friday.

While much focus has been on off-the-field matters, Nuno looked ahead to what he thinks will be a tough game in the fight for Premier League safety.

He said: "You never know [what United will do]. The element of pressure they had before is gone.

"I don't exactly know what Chris [Wilder] is going to do - if he's going to try something for next season. It will be tough. They are relegated, but there will the pride element in front of their fans.

"Looking at the table and the next matches, it's going to be to the end, it won't be solved. We are fortunate we rely on ourselves. We must keep it and after Sheffield, it must still be in our hands."

United’s relegation was confirmed following a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Newcastle United last Saturday.

Despite an 11-game winless run, Wilder was upbeat about his team’s chances of finishing the season on a positive note.

"We have got a massive obligation to our supporters to go out on a high and give them something for the summer to hang on to because they've had nothing to hang on to this season, very few moments," said Wilder.

"We have two massive, fabulous home games. We all understand the connection and the rivalry between ourselves and Forest recently and going back a long time. We all understand that. On and off the pitch as well, I think this stuff.

"Then an away day at Everton. Three big games for us. My attitude and preparation will be there as it has been since we walked through the door. There won't be any 'on the beach' unless the players produce 'on the beach' performances."


United – Ben Brereton Diaz

Despite only playing 11 Premier League games this season, no United player has had more shots on target than Brereton Diaz (17).

Forest – Chris Wood

Nine of Wood’s 12 Premier League goals this season have either put Nottingham Forest in the lead (four) or drawn them level (five).


Forest are looking to complete their first league double over United since the 2003-04 campaign when the sides were in the second tier.

Forest have won just one of their last 19 Premier League games against promoted sides (D12 L6), though it was in the reverse fixture against United this season. This will be the second time they have faced an opponent in their first match after being relegated from the Premier League (within the same season), previously beating QPR 3-0 in 1995-96.

Meanwhile, United are just three goals away from becoming the second side in Premier League history to concede 100 goals in a single campaign, after Swindon Town in 1993-94 (100 in 42 games). The Blades would be just the third team to do so in a top-flight season with a maximum of 20 teams, after Darwen in 1891-92 (112 in 26 games) and Leicester in 1908-09 (102 in 38 games).

This is United’s first home Premier League match against Forest since October 1992, a goalless draw at Bramall Lane. They are unbeaten in their last four top-flight home games against Forest (W3 D1) since a 3-1 defeat in August 1967.

Forest have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 12 Premier League away games. Since beating Newcastle 3-1 in their first game on the road under Nuno, the Tricky Trees are now winless in their last seven (D2 L5).


United – 26.2%

Draw – 28%

Forest – 45.8%

Nuno Espirito Santo has called for the Premier League to provide clarity as Nottingham Forest wait on their appeal against a four-point deduction for breaching profit and sustainability rules, describing the situation as a "mess".

Forest were deducted four points in March after being found to have breached the competition's financial rules in the assessment period culminating in the end of the 2022-23 season.

Everton have also had a total of eight points deducted for two separate breaches, but with the Toffees pulling clear of the relegation zone, it is Forest who are looking over their shoulders.

Nuno's team sit just one point clear of 18th-placed Luton Town as they await the outcome of an appeal against their penalty, and he says the lack of clarity is affecting several clubs.

Asked whether he had received an update on Forest's appeal on Thursday, Nuno said: "Unfortunately we haven't heard yet. 

"We are expecting to, but not yet. It is very difficult. We have been dealing with this situation for a while.

"We all expected the decision to come sooner, so we would know exactly how many points we have. Do we have 30, 29, 28, 27? We need it as fast as possible.

"To have 30 points would be fantastic, because this is the number of points that the boys achieved on the pitch.

"It is a mess. It should have been decided before. They have had enough time. It is very difficult for us but also for the rest of the league. It is very hard to be in this situation."

Forest visit already-relegated Sheffield United on Saturday, having taken just one point from four Premier League games since beating Fulham 3-1 in early April.

They could be in the relegation zone by the time that match kicks off, with Luton hosting Everton in a huge clash at Kenilworth Road on Friday.

Nuno Espirito Santo believes Nottingham Forest will "achieve what we want" by replicating the attitude demonstrated during their defeat by Manchester City.

Forest went down 2-0 against their title-chasing opponents at the City Ground, and remain just a point clear of the relegation zone with three games remaining.

Despite the defeat, the hosts produced a spirited performance against Pep Guardiola's side, while registering 14 shots on goal compared to 11 from the Citizens - meaning they had had more shots in both meetings this season.

Forest face already relegated Sheffield United, Chelsea and fellow strugglers Burnley in their final three games, and Nuno has seen enough to be confident of securing the Reds' Premier League status for another year.

"We played a good game, were compact, organised and had chances," he told Sky Sports. "We did a good job regarding how hard it is to play against Manchester City, and the players gave it a big go.

"We are disappointed with the result, but the encouragement comes from the way we work, how committed we are, and what we have ahead of us. This is more important.

"We stay positive, and we go for the next three games. With this attitude, we will achieve what we want."

Defender Moussa Niakhate echoes his manager's thoughts, adding: "We had three big chances in the first half, but we didn't score. That was the difference.

"Everybody is working hard. We can be proud. If we perform like this in the next three games, we'll stay up."

Pep Guardiola says it is a "dream come true" to be fighting for the Premier League title once again as his Manchester City side prepare to take on Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Sunday.

City head into this weekend in second, one point behind leaders Arsenal with a game in hand as Liverpool continue to falter. The Gunners play before Guardiola's men on Sunday, travelling to take on fierce rivals Tottenham, and any slip-up could allow City to move top of the table.

City are on the hunt for a sixth Premier League title in seven seasons, and though Guardiola's men have been in the fight at the summit so often in recent times, the chance to win top-flight silverware again has not lost its appeal.

"Of course, all the teams in the [title race] are tired," Guardiola told reporters. "It's normal at the end of the season.

"But at the same time, it's so exciting. Fighting again for the Premier League? It's a dream come true.

"I could not expect it, honestly. I know always you dream to be there."

At the other end of the table, Forest are fighting for their Premier League lives, a battle not aided by dubious officiating decisions in the 2-0 defeat at Everton last weekend.

The controversial loss leaves Forest heading into their tough fixture this weekend just a point above the drop zone with four games to play.

In his pre-match press conference for the City game, Forest head coach Nuno Espirito Santo was still fuming about the refereeing against the Toffees, saying: "I still can’t quite believe how the decisions went against us.

"It has a big impact as it eventually means points, it means frustration and disappointment. It feels like it’s always against us."


Nottingham Forest – Morgan Gibbs-White

Gibbs-White has been involved in four goals in his last three Premier League home games (two goals, two assists). Indeed, since Forest's return to the top-flight last season, Gibbs-White has been involved in 19 goals at the City Ground, at least eight more than any other player (eight goals, 11 assists). City will have to keep a watchful eye on the former Wolves man.

Manchester City – Phil Foden

It had already been Foden's best league scoring season of his career before the City youth product netted his 15th and 16th Premier League goals of the campaign to help his side to a 4-0 victory at Brighton on Thursday. He has been absolutely crucial for City this term, and he could be the man to help unlock the Forest door this weekend for another huge three points in the title race.


City are looking to complete their first league double over Forest since the 1999-00 campaign in the second tier, and their first in the top-flight since 1990-91.

However, Forest have lost just three of their last 16 top-flight home games against City (10 wins, three draws), going down 2-0 in 1985, 3-1 in 1990 and 2-0 in 1993.

They have been strong at home of late, too, unbeaten in their last three at the City Ground despite winning just one of their last nine Premier League outings.

It will have to be an almighty effort to topple City, however, especially considering Forest have kept just one clean sheet in their last 23 Premier League games, with that coming via a 2-0 win over West Ham in February.

City have lost both of their Premier League games in the Midlands so far this season, going down 2-1 at Wolves and 1-0 at Aston Villa. However, they last lost three consecutive such visits to the Midlands between March and December 2008, and with the title on the line, it is hard to see past them as strong favourites to pick up the three points on Sunday.


Forest: 10.8%

Man City: 69.3%

Draw: 19.9%

Nuno Espirito Santo felt his Nottingham Forest side missed an opportunity to give themselves breathing space in the Premier League relegation fight after they drew 2-2 against Wolves.

After Matheus Cunha’s fine individual strike put the visitors ahead, goals from Morgan Gibbs-White and Danilo either side of half-time gave Forest the advantage.

But Cunha’s second of the match denied Forest the victory as they moved one point clear of Luton, who were beaten heavily at Manchester City.

With home games against City and Chelsea remaining, Forest’s survival fate could well be decided by away matches at Everton, Sheffield United and Burnley.

Though they are hoping to recoup some of the four points they were docked by the Premier League for breaking financial rules, with an appeal date still to be set.

Former Wolves boss Nuno said: “We are in a fight. It’s going to be a tough one but we’ll give it our all.

“I think it’s a wasted opportunity. I think we did enough. It is disappointing with the way we conceded but offensively we were the better team. We were dominant and had chances.

“It’s very frustrating, not only for me but for all of us – the players and the fans. It’s very frustrating. Beside the need we had, we were better so it’s a missed opportunity. We are all sad and disappointed.”

Cunha’s second goal was the 22nd time Forest have conceded from a set-piece this season and this was one of the most costly.

“Even the first goal, we allowed Wolves individual actions and too many situations,” Nuno said.

“If there’s one player in the box, we allowed them to turn – too soft. The second one is bad defending.”

Wolves, who are playing with a sizeable injury list, look set for a mid-table finish as European qualification now looks out of reach with no wins in the last four.

But boss Gary O’Neil is proud of his side after having only 12 senior outfield players to pick from.

“We are getting a bit closer, we have got people coming back but still a very tough puzzle to put together at the moment, for me and the guys,” he said.

“There is a lot going on at the moment to get through games, they deserve huge credit because it is tough getting points away from home in the Premier League when you are at full strength, so to come here with what we have available to us at the moment is a real positive result and a positive performance because they showed a lot of quality and some real grit and determination.

“Good players make a massive difference. We came here today and I had to pick the 10 outfield players from 12.

“It’s the toughest spell I have had as a manager or a player, I don’t think there will be many teams choosing 10 outfield players from 12 players.

“But there is no excuses or moaning, there is just a real sense of pride. We took three points off Fulham, a point away at Burnley and Nottingham Forest with basically 12 senior players in every one of those. Credit to the group.”

Nuno Espirito Santo has told his Nottingham Forest players they must keep building after the 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace moved them out of the relegation zone.

Chris Wood’s 61st-minute equaliser cancelled out Jean-Philippe Mateta’s early goal for Palace and saw Forest move level with Luton on goal difference.

It was Forest’s first match since the Premier League docked them four points for breaching financial rules, plunging them into the bottom three.

Forest were flat for much of the first half but Palace failed to build on Mateta’s early strike, much to the frustration of Oliver Glasner, and in the final 20 minutes both sides had chances to win it.

“I think we did enough in the game to achieve another result but the game was not easy and it started bad for us,” Nuno said.

“When you have the expectations of ‘let’s go’ and you concede first, the team shakes and it was not what we wanted.

“But, overall, I think we were dominant and were in control. We had good moments. We produced a better second half – more pace and we were more aggressive.

“It is not easy to play against Crystal Palace because of the shape they have – the spaces, the gaps and the pockets are not there.

“Once again the team showed character. We are out of the relegation zone and we want to capitalise on this for the next one because we definitely need to climb up the table.”

Forest have launched an appeal against their punishment and before the game fans in the Trent End unveiled a banner which read ‘We shall fight and we shall overcome’.

But tension grew in the stands after Forest fell behind and it was not until the second half that the home side found their rhythm.

“It is very tight,” Nuno said of the relegation fight. “There are some teams still involved in that fight. We have to focus on ourselves.

“This point is good as long as we do something against Fulham (at home on Tuesday) and it’s going to be tough.”

Palace had looked ready to capitalise on Forest’s predicament as Mateta scored with their first real opportunity and Eberechi Eze had opportunities to add to the lead before the break.

They also hit a post in the 87th minute when Eze’s corner deflected off Neco Williams but they could not secure three points that would have all-but assured them of safety.

“It feels like two lost points,” Glasner said. “We had enough chances and we created them brilliantly in different situations, compliments to my staff, the set=pieces were brilliant and always dangerous.

“In some phases of the game we were under pressure and they have the quality to score a goal.

“We know Wood is a fantastic player in the box and in this situation we did not get enough pressure on the ball and we had some phases where we were not confident enough on the ball.

“The first (thing) is always to create chances. It’s not too easy here…they’re very good at home and creating so many chances gives me a lot of confidence for the next weeks and the players did fight until the end of the game.

“At the end what counts is the result. We have to accept it and respect it and I was told a point away from home in the Premier League is good so we have to accept it.”

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag accused Nottingham Forest of targeting Bruno Fernandes in his side’s FA Cup win at the City Ground and branded criticism of his captain “pathetic”.

The Portugal midfielder overcame a “serious injury” to play his part in United’s 1-0 victory at Forest, setting up Casemiro’s 89th-minute winner from a free-kick.

He was on the receiving end of plenty of robust challenges from Forest throughout the 90 minutes while also being the butt of social media jokes after Saturday’s loss against Fulham where he suffered the problem.

Fulham’s official TikTok account poked fun at him for appearing to feign injury and it got Ten Hag’s back up.

Asked about the severity of Fernandes’ injury, he said: “I don’t want to go into that because you saw that Forest was targeting him, so I don’t tell what he has but it was a serious injury.

“There were many fouls on him. Maybe I am a little bit too tough but when he has the ball they were really tight on him.

“Then I see that serious media criticise him and social media is pathetic and it can’t be.

“He has a serious injury but he continued to play on Saturday and today he also fought to be part of the game and he has a very high pain threshold.

“Last year he did also something similar against Spurs and in the semi-final and it shows his leadership because that expresses his character and that is very good when you are a leader.”

This was far from a classic performance by United, who face Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday, but they got the job done and kept hopes of finishing the season with a trophy in tact.

That is not going to be easy, though, as they were handed quarter-final draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford in two and a half weeks.

“There are many good teams in the Premier League, Liverpool at this moment is top but it is a great challenge and we are really looking forward and we like the challenges, it is a great game for us to play.

“But first of all we are now looking forward to Sunday.”

Extra time was looming when Casemiro glanced Fernandes’ delivery past Matt Turner to send United’s travelling contingent wild.

The goal survived a lengthy VAR check as Raphael Varane, who was in an offside possession, blocked a couple of Forest players, but he was ruled not to be interfering in play.

Such has been Forest’s frustration at refereeing decisions in recent weeks, they have appointed Mark Clattenburg to act as a conduit to the PGMOL and he was spotted sat next to Howard Webb.

And this was another decision that went against them but boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who swatted away Ten Hag’s suggestions of targeting Fernandes, did not want to dwell on it.

Nuno said: “I didn’t see clearly the images but speaking with the players they say it is a block and a possible offside. They checked it.

“We have had so many issues in this period with VAR and referees that we try to forget about it and move forward.

“I think it was a good performance, we played good, much better than the previous game, so improvement from that.

“It is frustrating to lose it in the end but I think we played good, football is cruel sometimes and today we are on that side.”

Nottingham Forest have appointed Mark Clattenburg as a referee analyst and boss Nuno Espirito Santo wants him to explain the decisions going against his side.

The former Premier League referee, who is currently enjoying a Saturday primetime television slot on Gladiators, will join Forest in a consultancy role.

He attended the 2-0 victory over West Ham on Saturday and saw VAR opt against advising referee Thomas Bramall to take a second look at a Maxwel Cornet challenge on Neco Williams in the penalty area, despite replays showing clear contact.


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Forest also felt they had a clear penalty rejected last week when Taiwo Awoniyi was tripped by Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and Nuno hopes Clattenburg will be able to give him answers.

“I haven’t seen him yet,” the Portuguese said. “I know the club have done that. What we expect is someone so expert and so good to give us a clear view and an opinion on what is happening.

“Everybody in this room is asking and I am asking myself why (no penalty). I can accept the referee didn’t see it, but when you have VAR it is so obvious.

“What I expect from Mark is to at least give me an explanation and say what is happening.”

Nuno received a yellow card for protesting the Williams decision.

“When it is so obvious, I cannot say anything else than the truth. For me, it is a penalty,” he said.

“The speed of the game, maybe the referee didn’t see it. He is a young referee. But VAR has to interfere and do something because they had time. It took two minutes of checking.

“After you see the image, you ask yourself why. Today the result is different, but last week we were here in sorrow and grief because we expect better decisions.”

Nottingham Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo cannot understand why VAR did not intervene and award his side a penalty in their 3-2 defeat to Newcastle.

Taiwo Awoniyi appeared to be tripped by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka with the score at 2-2 but referee Anthony Taylor waved away protests and VAR did not overrule, despite replays showing contact was made.

Three minutes later Bruno Guimaraes scored his second of the game to inflict another defeat for Forest which sees them teetering just two points above the relegation zone.

Nuno was in no doubt the penalty incident was the decisive moment in the game.

“Yes, it was a clear penalty, I saw it over and over again, for me it is a clear penalty,” he said. “Have you seen the image? I saw the replay over and over again.

“I think Anthony Taylor maybe doesn’t have a clear view of the incident because it is from behind but when you have the chance for VAR to check it, I think it is so obvious, that is why I don’t understand the decision. It is clear, the ball is still in play.

“We came from behind twice, it is very hard against a good team and you have a clear chance to go in front. We don’t know what will happen but it clearly changed the history of the game. That was a decisive moment for sure.

“I am frustrated, sad, disappointed because we played well and we created a lot of situations with the pace and speed. I am disappointed because we did so many things right and so few things that really cost us.”

Guimaraes’ first goal since September put Newcastle into an early lead but Forest levelled through Anthony Elanga and then Fabian Schar’s goal from a set-piece was cancelled out on the stroke of half-time by Callum Hudson-Odoi’s deflected effort.

Awoniyi appeared to have been felled just after the hour and three minutes later Guimaraes fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the area to boost Newcastle’s European hopes.

“It was a tough game, we knew it was going to be,” Magpies manager Eddie Howe said.

“I am really pleased with the first half, to come in at 2-2 was difficult, we were really good and switched off a couple of times and got punished.

“The second half was tough, Forest were up and we had to show a different side to our game and the second half was about spirit.

“We are still getting challenges left, right and centre but we are managing to come through those and today was a massive result for us, it gives us a real big high off the back off last week where there were positives but the result was not good.

“The players just keep giving more and I couldn’t be prouder of the lads tonight.”

Nottingham Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo said his side’s night of toil in their FA Cup replay against Bristol City was worth it after they booked a fifth-round tie with Manchester United.

Forest needed a penalty shootout to get past the Championship outfit after it ended 1-1 after 120 minutes at the City Ground.

Goalkeeper Matt Turner was the hero as he saved Sam Bell’s effort in the shootout after Divock Origi’s first goal for Forest had been cancelled out by Jason Knight’s leveller.

“We are so happy it was tough but it was worth it,” the Portuguese said. “We had players struggling, extra time, let’s assess them now and see how they are.

“With players that have been out for so long it is tough, but it was the best possible way to manage the situation we are in now, trying to protect players that are returning, we have to measure the minutes they are on the pitch.

“The response was good. It was tough, but the attitude and the character to never give up makes me very, very happy.

“This is the FA Cup, it is so special and that is why we are so happy and proud to keep continuing and fighting for something that is so huge for us, to fight for a trophy, with the history of the club we have to keep on fighting and try to deliver.”

Manchester United visit the City Ground in three weeks for the fifth-round tie.

“It is going to be fantastic and huge for us but before that we have a lot of things to prepare. We have a tough one on Saturday (against Newcastle),” Nuno added.

Bristol City boss Liam Manning was proud of his side’s effort and praised Bell, despite his decisive penalty miss in the shootout.

Manning said: “He is understandably gutted, the lads have been great and got around him.

“As tough as an experience it is right now, it is only going to be one that makes him tougher and stronger. I said to him that’s the best he has been since I have been here, I thought his performance level was excellent.

“We wouldn’t have got to penalties if it wasn’t for him making that recovery run and tackle at the back post.

“He has got an exciting future ahead of him, he’s got talent, it’s now how we turn that into consistent performances.

“There was huge pride in the performance level, in the last 15 minutes of extra time we were pushing and the better side and created so many chances.”

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