Football: Solskjaer's latest and greatest

Four goals, 19 minutes, one supreme substitute. United's Norwegian goes two better than Cole and Yorke

Nottingham Forest 1

Rogers 6

Manchester United 8

Yorke 2, 66, Cole 7, 49, Solskjaer 80, 87, 90, 90

Half-time: 1-2 Attendance: 30,025

RON ATKINSON had that deadpan look about him, somehow reminiscent of the late Les Dawson. The face the comedian pulled as though he was desperately attempting to clear a wasp from his mouth. "Scored four, didn't he?" asked the Forest manager rhetorically of the Manchester United substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on the field for just 19 minutes. A slight pause, then, "Good job they didn't put him on earlier..."

Sardonic humour was the only way to deal with the unpalatable facts of the afternoon, one which accurately revealed the disparity between these sides at opposite ends of the Premiership. That cruel reality also included a brace for Andy Cole, a feat which will be warmly received by the watching England stand-in coach Howard Wilkinson, and another for his accomplice, Dwight Yorke, increasing the Trinidad and Tobago striker's tally to 21 goals, and bringing their joint total to 38. In all competitions now, Alex Ferguson's men are fast approaching a century of goals. By the end, United were knocking them in with the disdain of the big, fit lads in a playground kickabout, as that Norwegian substitute for all occasions, Solskjaer, came on and added his own piece of history with quite remarkable nonchalance. He almost looked embarrassed.

By the end Solskjaer had contributed to the biggest away win in the Premier League. It was all a bit too much like a stately lion casually pouncing on the sick wildebeest of the herd. "In a nutshell, we got murdered," stated the former United manager Atkinson. "Our finishing was absolutely wonderful," agreed Ferguson, his successor at Old Trafford.

The Premiership leaders, with no fewer than four current England squad members in their starting line-up, and another, Nicky Butt, as substitute, were in a different league. And by the end of May the two clubs probably will be.

That first victory in 20 Premiership games at Everton last week might have been just the impetus Forest required. If only accursed fate had not matched them next with United, who signalled their intention of securing their seventh successive victory from Yorke's second-minute opener. As false dawns go, Forest had woken up to discover it was still just after midnight.

Certainly, Atkinson has a considerable way to go in his restoration process. Jonathan Creek, aka the actor Alan Davies, was watching from the stands. But even his alter ego in the BBC drama series would have trouble solving the conundrum of how Forest find salvation now.

"They had quality all over the field and are a magnificent side, but we contributed a bit towards it, too. Quite a bit," Atkinson said. "We've got to get this out of our system quickly. It's like a game of golf. That's another hole over, even if we're 12 over par."

If Cole served notice of his intention to play some part in that friendly against France on Wednesday, Wilkinson also departed secure in the knowledge that David Beckham is in his pomp, those crosses leaving his feet like heat-seeking missiles, programmed to reach a United shirt, his vision at its zenith. You would have thought rival supporters would have tired with constant abuse for a man with quite sublime talents.

In stark contrast, Forest sought their inspiration from Pierre van Hooijdonk, who turned out only after recovering from what was described as a pain in the ribs, presumably inflicted by the stiletto of Dave Bassett. He is too frequently a peripheral figure who dances gracefully, but to his own tune.

The game began in a maelstrom of activity as United profited from Beckham's first corner after just 90 seconds. The home defence failed to clear adequately and after Roy Keane had retrieved the ball and found Scholes, the England man's cross was sidefooted home by Yorke. Who else? Five minutes later, Forest seized upon an error by Ronny Johnsen, broke smartly through the United rearguard, with Alan Rogers swapping passes superbly with Jean- Claude Darcheville before beating Peter Schmeichel with ease.

Immediately from the restart, and with Forest still mentally applauding themselves, Cole raced away, and, with Dave Beasant stranded, struck the ball towards an empty net. The Norwegian John Olav Hjelde, in attempting to clear, merely succeded in assisting the ball into his own net.

After that introduction, it was inevitable that there would be a lull in affairs. The storm followed immediately after the interval, Paul Scholes striking the post. But only minutes later, Yorke's blistering shot forced Beasant to spill the ball and Cole followed up. 3-1. For a short period Forest rallied. The subsitute Dougie Freedman was denied by Schmeichel and then saw a 25-yard effort skim off the top of the bar. United were only pausing for breath. Jesper Blomqvist pulled the ball back from the goalline, Hjelde stuck out a leg, the ball deflected on to a post and Yorke was in for his second. 4-1.

Ferguson's men might have settled for that, but Solskjaer had other ideas as he converted every chance that came his way, his second a quite superlative piece of accuracy from the corner of the penalty area. Even now, it is unlikely that he will start next Saturday's FA cup tie against Fulham; yet, he insists on remaining at Old Trafford despite being constantly overlooked in favour of Cole and Yorke. "He's an intelligent lad and he realises that he's up against two fantastically in-form strikers," said Ferguson, linked this week with the England job. As he might have wryly reflected last night, who needs it with this depth of quality at his disposal.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower