Nottingham Forest’s hopes of a play-off finish are well and truly on after a comfortable 3-0 home win over Hull City at the weekend.
The Reds’ latest assault on the Sky Bet Championship play-off spots took a major blow last week, where they fell to a 2-0 away defeat to Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium, thanks to goals from Peter Etebo and Benik Afobe.
It was a must-win game for Martin O’Neill’s men, who slipped to four points off the top six after their defeat in Staffordshire, but after a cagey first-half, it was the Irishman’s substitutions which spun the game on it’s head.
Joao Carvalho, who is yet to make a start under O’Neill, came on to replace Daryl Murphy, and put Forest ahead with an unstoppable effort just four minutes later. Goals from fellow substitute Karim Ansarifard and Joe Lolley secured an invaluable three points for the Reds.
It has been a tough couple of months for Carvalho – the club-record signing, who flourished under Aitor Karanka, has failed to make an impact since the departure of the Spaniard, and has had to settle for a couple of substitute appearances under O’Neill.
The Portuguese playmaker has divided opinions among the City Ground faithful this season, and has scored four goals and produced six assists for the club since signing from Benfica for a reported fee of £13.2million in the summer.
But after making such an impressive impact at the weekend in the 22 minutes he was on the pitch, Carvalho must feel that he simply has to start under O’Neill more often – he was a constant threat to the Hull defence, and showed his true quality with a fantastic strike, which put the Reds into the lead.
He must be feeling on top of the world after his performance at the weekend…