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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London