Ashley Young’s superb strike earned Aston Villa a 1-1 draw on Monday at relegation rivals Nottingham Forest who climbed off the bottom of the Premier League.
Emmanuel Dennis put Steve Cooper’s side ahead early in the first half at the City Ground before Young bagged Villa’s equaliser with a long-range rocket.
By ending their five-match losing run, Forest moved one point above Leicester into 19th place.
But Forest have won just once in their nine league matches this season and face a huge battle to avoid relegation back to the Championship.
Villa are unbeaten in their last four games, but Steven Gerrard’s team are also in relegation danger.
Villa have won only once in their last seven league matches and sit just three points above the bottom three.
It has been a mixed week for Cooper, who watched his side thrashed 4-0 by East Midlands rivals Leicester seven days ago.
That left Forest rooted to the bottom of the table and fuelled speculation Cooper would be sacked just months after winning the promotion that ended the club’s 23-year exile from the Premier League.
But Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis instead opted to back Cooper with a new contract until 2025.
Cooper, who made five changes from the Leicester loss, was given a standing ovation by Forest fans before kick-off and the atmosphere was even more raucous after 15 minutes.
Forest took the lead with a well-worked free-kick as Morgan Gibbs-White’s delivery picked out Dennis for a glancing header past Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez from six yards.
It was Dennis’s first Forest goal since joining from Watford for £20 million ($22 million) in August, but Villa produced the perfect response seven minutes later.
Ollie Watkins nodded down to Young 25 yards from goal and the left-back’s lashed a strike into the bottom corner.
Forest appealed for a foul by Villa’s Jacob Ramsey on Ryan Yates in the build-up, but Young’s first goal for the club since 2011 was allowed to stand.
At 37, Young is Villa’s second oldest scorer in the Premier League behind Peter Schmeichel, the Danish keeper who was just a few months older when he netted in 2001.
Villa had failed to win all four times they had conceded first this season, but they pushed hard to end that streak.
Watkins had the ball in the net from Philippe Coutinho’s cross moments later but Villa were denied by an offside flag.
A last-ditch tackle from Scott McKenna in the six-yard box stopped Watkins converting Ramsey’s pass.
Watkins forced Forest keeper Dean Henderson to save his header at the near post, before Cheikhou Kouyate’s long-range blast drew a good stop from Martinez at the other end.
Villa’s Douglas Luiz was fortunate to escape punishment for nudging his head towards Brennan Johnson.
Cameron Archer had a chance to win the game for Villa in the final minutes but his header from Luiz’s free-kick was well off target.
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