Jackson’s late winner lifts Chelsea’s hopes of Europe

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Nottingham Forest must wait to make mathematically certain of their Premier League status after conceding two late goals in a 3-2 home loss to Chelsea.

Forest began Saturday’s thrilling match knowing a point from their final two matches would be enough to secure safety after Luton Town’s 3-1 loss at West Ham United and Burnley’s 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

After Willy Boly cancelled out Mykhailo Mudryk’s strike inside the opening 16 minutes, Callum Hudson-Odoi thought he had won the game with a delightful 74th-minute curler against his former side.

However, Chelsea silenced the City Ground through quickfire goals from Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Jackson in the final 10 minutes.

Chelsea’s third win in a row keeps them seventh and level on points with Newcastle United in sixth, while Forest are three points better off than Luton with a match to go, but they are 12 goals better off in terms of goal difference.

How the match unfolded

Mudryk controlled Cole Palmer’s defence-splitting pass and finished across Matz Sels to give Chelsea the lead, but Boly levelled for Forest with a free header from Morgan Gibbs-White’s free-kick delivery, the ball taking a touch off Conor Gallagher on its way in.

Forest also created plenty of opportunities at 1-1 as Ryan Yates clipped the outside of the post and Gibbs-White did likewise from a close-range header, with the rebound dropping to Chris Wood.

The Forest striker somehow blazed over in one of the misses of the season, which almost proved costly as Thiago Silva clipped the post at the other end soon after.

Hudson-Odoi was next to hit the frame of the goal, striking the bar with a deflected shot, but it did not appear to matter when he cut inside Malo Gusto and curled the ball past Djordje Petrovic.

Then came a late twist, though, as substitute Sterling scored a similar curling strike at the opposite end in the 80th minute, before fellow replacement Reece James – returning from a lengthy layoff – crossed for Jackson to head home a dramatic winner less than two minutes later.

Hudson-Odoi belter not enough

Hudson-Odoi was playing in the Premier League for the 100th time and he marked that landmark in style against his former side, with whom he made 72 of those appearances.

The eight goals he has scored this season are the most by an English player for Forest in a single Premier League campaign since Jason Lee netted eight in 1995/96, while it is twice as many as he managed for Chelsea across all those appearances.

That goal remarkably was not enough, though, thanks to Sterling and Jackson, meaning Forest technically still need a point to confirm their safety. Barring a truly remarkable swing on the final day, however, they will be safe for another year.

Palmer in Lampard and Drogba territory

Palmer brilliantly assisted Chelsea’s early opener and would have had another had Jackson been more clinical in front of goal.

The England midfielder now has 31 direct Premier League goal involvements in his debut campaign at Stamford Bridge, which no player in the division can better.

He is also only the third Chelsea player to both score 20 or more goals (21 in total) and provide 10 or more assists (10 in total) in a Premier League season for Chelsea after Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, who both did so in the 2009/10 campaign.

Club reports

Nott’m Forest report | Chelsea report

Final Premier League fixtures

Key facts

Morgan Gibbs-White recorded his 10th assist of the Premier League campaign, with only Ollie Watkins (12) making more in 2023/24. He’s just the third Nottingham Forest player to hit double figures for assists in a single season in the competition, after Bryan Roy in 1994/95 (11) and Ian Woan in 1995/96 (10).

Since Boxing Day 2023, only three teams have picked up more points than Chelsea’s 35 in the Premier League (Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool). They’ve lost only three of their 18 games in this period (W10 D5), with only Man City (0) suffering fewer defeats.

Forest suffered their ninth home defeat of the Premier League season, their joint-most in a 20-team campaign in the competition (also nine in 1998/99).

Mudryk scored his fifth Premier League goal of the season for Chelsea, with three of those being the opening goal of the match – only Cole Palmer (eight) has opened the scoring more often for the Blues in the competition this season.

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