A long-distance strike from Ashley Young helped Aston Villa claim a point after trailing at Nottingham Forest on Monday night.
Emmanuel Dennis had given Forest the lead, nodding in Morgan Gibbs-White’s free kick, but a fierce strike from veteran Young levelled the scoring. A tense second half followed but no winner could be found.
Forest began the game at the bottom of the Premier League and recently backed manager Steve Cooper with a new contract, while Steven Gerrard’s Villa were seeking their third league win of the season.
Gerrard has come under pressure for his side’s painful style of play in recent weeks and they again struggled to create goalscoring chances before the hosts took the lead.
It was Dennis who opened the scoring. Some clever movement helped the forward get free in the box and he precisely headed Gibbs-White’s free kick beyond Emiliano Martinez.
That goal extended a poor record for Villa – it was the third effort they have conceded in the first 15 minutes of the first half, with only Bournemouth (five) having a worse return.
Villa still had a number of exciting attacking talents in the starting XI, starting a front three of Emiliano Buendia, Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho, but it was the versatile utility man Young who dragged his side level.
The former England international smashed in a fizzing right-footed effort from outside the penalty to equalise with his first goal in the Premier League since the 2018/19 season.
Villa briefly thought they had taken the lead when Watkins slid in to convert Jacob Ramsey’s cross, but the strike was chalked off for offside.
After an entertaining first half, the game somewhat died a death in the second period, though John McGinn and Cheikhou Kouyate had opportune moments which slipped by.
The game was up for grabs but neither side could find a winning goal even as Forest fans roared their side on. Instead, they’ve jumped above Leicester with the point but remain in the relegation zone, while Villa are 16th.
Nottingham Forest XI (4-3-3): Henderson; Aurier, Cook, McKenna, Toffolo; Freuler, Yates, Kouyate; Johnson, Dennis, Gibbs-White.
.Substitutes: N. Williams (58′ for Aurier), Surridge (71′ for Dennis), O’Brien (90′ for Gibbs-White)
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Watkins, Coutinho.
Substitutes: Ings (65′ for Coutinho), Dendoncker (77′ for McGinn), Archer (81′ for Ramsey)