Football: Goldbaek gets second wind

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Nottingham Forest 1

Van Hooijdonk 39

Chelsea 3

Forssell 6, Goldbaek 25, 83 Half-time: 1-2 Attendance: 26,351

GIANLUCA VIALLI had warned Chelsea to expect a fight from the side looking least likely to survive the Premiership cut this season and he was not wrong. It was just a pity for Ron Atkinson, the man hired to perform a miracle at the City Ground, that Forest handed their under- resourced opponents a two-goal lead before showing the qualities the Chelsea manager had anticipated.

Pierre van Hooijdonk provided the beleaguered home side with a glimpse of hope just before half-time but by then Mikael Forssell and Bjarne Goldbaek had helped themselves to a couple of gift offerings and, try as they did to make further inroads, Forest found the task beyond them. Goldbaek added his second and Chelsea's third close to the end.

Ten points adrift of the safety of 17th place, Atkinson may as well start preparing for life in the First Division. "You cannot legislate for the irresponsible," the Forest manager bemoaned. "We would have struggled giving a non-League side that kind of start, let alone one of the best teams in Europe."

Had Vialli not absented himself from the press conference afterwards, he might have agreed that it is on days such as this, with your squad depleted by injuries and suspensions, that a manager needs luck. After the bad-tempered draw with Blackburn in midweek, in which Vialli was sent off, the Italian had to assemble a Chelsea side without Dennis Wise and Roberto di Matteo, both suspended, as well as Graeme Le Saux, who was injured against Blackburn along with the manager himself.

On a City Ground pitch they would tear up were it their own, Chelsea had before them a potential minefield, so the nerve-steadier of an early gift goal was precisely what was required. It came courtesy of the Forest captain Steve Chettle, who failed to cut out a long, wind-assisted clearance by Ed de Goey, which then bounced conveniently for the 17-year-old Forssell, standing in for Vialli, to glide around Dave Beasant and put Chelsea ahead with his first Premiership goal.

The sagging of Forest spirits was obvious as a series of uncertain passes went to blue shirts and it seemed men against boys as Chelsea extended their lead with another embarrassingly easy goal. Gianfranco Zola's right- wing corner was glanced on by Franck Leboeuf and turned in by the Dane Goldbaek.

If anything, it was too easy for Chelsea, who noticeably began to coast as half-time drew close - to their cost. Forest had not given up trying, however hopeless they might have felt, and when Andy Johnson's speculative flick found Van Hooijdonk, the rebellious Dutchman showed the cool side of his nature by chipping the ball over De Goey and giving the home side a lifeline.

Indeed, spurred on, Forest almost hauled themselves level before the interval when Alan Rogers delivered a low cross from the left that Jean- Claude Darcheville almost turned home.

A superb save by Beasant to deny Goldbaek gave Forest's morale another lift early in the second half, sparking an attack that ended with Darcheville again going close.

Tore Andre Flo, back on the Chelsea bench after a six-week absence, made his entrance with just under half an hour left but Forest should have drawn level when Hugo Porfirio, a second-half substitute, won possession to send Van Hooijdonk clear. With Darcheville un-marked in the centre, a goal looked certain but the Dutchman's woeful pass failed to find his team-mate.

It was the last throw of the dice for Atkinson's side. Within moments, Chelsea had ended all uncertainty about where the points were going. Flo, eager to make an impact, tried to make sure with a shot from the edge of the box but while Beasant thwarted the Norwegian he could not hold the ball nor prevent Goldbaek from claiming his second goal.