Nottingham Forest 1-0 West Ham: Player ratings as Awoniyi strike secures hard-fought win

Awoniyi's account is open
Awoniyi's account is open / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

Nottingham Forest had goalkeeper Dean Henderson to thank as they held on to a 1-0 victory over West Ham on Sunday.

The enthralling affair was decided by Taiwo Awoniyi's scruffy strike on the stroke of half-time, but Henderson had a huge role to play with some excellent saves, including from a Declan Rice penalty.

Forest had the stronger start but the first real effort on goal came from Aaron Cresswell, whose free-kick inside the first ten minutes whistled narrowly over the roof of Dean Henderson's crossbar.

Down the other end, Jarrod Bowen headed onto his own crossbar in a desperate attempt to stop Forest from opening the scoring, with Lukasz Fabianski at full stretch in a desperate attempt to keep the ball out.

Awoniyi then sent a header of his own agonisingly wide, with Forest really ramping up the pressure on the visitors, although they did have a moment of panic as ricocheted shot saw Tomas Soucek bundle the ball towards an open goal and Harry Toffolo desperately boot it away.

West Ham eventually grew into the game and created a real end-to-end affair and Soucek should have done better with a good header that he sent right at Henderson.

With the first half coming to a close, Fabianski was brave to keep out Brennan Johnson, and West Ham went down the other end and thought they had opened the scoring through Said Benrahma, whose strike was chalked off by VAR for a foul from Michail Antonio.

The first half saw Forest attempt more shots than they managed in the entirety of their defeat to Newcastle last time out, and they were finally rewarded for their positivity as Awoniyi deflected home a scrappy effort to give Forest the lead their performance fully deserved.

Straight from kick-off, Pablo Fornals bent a gorgeous effort off the crossbar, before Dean Henderson showed some nice reflexes to deny Soucek's follow-up.

The early stages were dominated by West Ham, who looked rejuvenated after the interval, but their positivity was nearly killed off just eight minutes into the second half as Brennan Johnson fired home, only for VAR to even the odds and rule it out for offside.

Benrahma then sent a free-kick crashing off the bar, before setting up Soucek for a fierce strike which Scott McKenna kept out with his arm. A penalty was awarded thanks to VAR, but Declan Rice's spot kick was excellently kept out by Henderson.

Forest had to hold on in the later stages, with the excellent Neco Williams clearing off the line, but the City Ground faithful won't care. Premier League football is back.

Nottingham Forest vs West Ham player ratings

1. Nottingham Forest (3-4-1-2)

Dean Henderson
Henderson had a great game / Michael Regan/GettyImages

GK: Dean Henderson - 8/10 - Some nice passing and a few excellent saves in the second half. An outstanding showing.

CB: Joe Worrall - 6/10 - A few sketchy moments up against Benrahma but largely held his own.

CB: Moussa Niakhate - 7/10 - Enjoyed going toe-to-toe with Antonio. Happy to get physical and played right on the edge at times.

CB: Scott McKenna - 5/10 - Had a bit of trouble with Bowen and a strange decision to handle the ball. Definitely got away with one.

RM: Neco Williams - 8/10 - Like a baby Trent Alexander-Arnold. Some outstanding passing and looks to have developed a good relationship with Awoniyi already. Cleared off the line late on.

CM: Lewis O'Brien - 8/10 - Played like someone looking to become the signing of the season. Pulled the strings in midfield and was just as happy to drop back and do the ugly work.

CM: Orel Mangala - 7/10 - Clever to block off Antonio for the disallowed goal. Enjoyed being a disruptive presence.

LM: Harry Toffolo - 7/10 - Really dangerous in attack and an absolute unit at the back. Some of his crosses caused chaos.

AM: Jesse Lingard - 6/10 - Still finding his feet at Forest and had to cope with fake bank notes being thrown his way by the West Ham supporters.

ST: Brennan Johnson - 7/10 - Put a real shift in. Involved in a lot of the positives from Forest. Very selfless.

ST: Taiwo Awoniyi - 8/10 - An absolute monster. Really put himself about and caused chaos for Zouma. Deserved his goal.

SUB: Sam Surridge (72' for Awoniyi) - 6/10 - Nice effort but losing Awoniyi's physicality wasn't ideal for Forest.

SUB: Steve Cook (79' for Niakhate) - N/A

SUB: Cafu (84' for Mangala) - N/A

Manager: Steve Cooper - 7/10 - Set things up perfectly for his side. They were superior for large parts of the game but didn't seem confident enough to make a change when West Ham took control. Had to hold on at times.

2. West Ham (4-2-3-1)

Declan Rice
Rice's effort was well saved / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

GK: Lukasz Fabianski - 7/10 - Helpless for the goal. Actually made some excellent saves in the first half. Unfortunate to be on the losing side.

RB: Vladimir Coufal - 5/10 - Could not cope with Forest's fluidity and energy. Looked really off it.

CB: Kurt Zouma - 5/10 - Clearly injured and playing through a lot of discomfort. Hard to be critical but the reality is Zouma had nothing up against Awoniyi.

CB: Ben Johnson - 5/10 - Also couldn't cope with Awoniyi. Clearly isn't a natural centre-back.

LB: Aaron Cresswell - 5/10 - Some nice passes combined with some uncomfortable defending.

DM: Tomas Soucek - 7/10 - A real menace in attack. Could have easily had a goal or two.

DM: Declan Rice - 6/10 - Looked flustered early on and didn't make a full recovery. His penalty was decent but Henderson was equal to it.

RM: Jarrod Bowen - 6/10 - A really poor first half but looked to have found his feet after the break.

AM: Pablo Fornals - 7/10 - Looked far more comfortable in this central role. Nearly scored a screamer.

LM: Said Benrahma - 8/10 - A dazzling display from the Algerian. Unlucky not to walk away with a handful of glorious goals.

ST: Michail Antonio - 6/10 - Put a shift in up top but didn't get much change from the Forest defence.

SUB: Manuel Lanzini (68' for Fornals) - 5/10 - Had nowhere near the required impact off the bench.

SUB: Gianluca Scamacca 69' for Antonio) - 5/10 - Really isolated for some reason. Team-mates weren't playing to his strengths.

SUB: Maxwel Cornet (85' for Bowen) - N/A

Manager: David Moyes - 5/10 - Got things wrong from the start and ruined what was clearly an excellent half-time speech with the wrong substitutions.

Player of the match - Lewis O'Brien