Beleaguered Felix Magath was left facing an anxious wait to learn if a Jekyll and Hyde performance from Fulham had saved him from the sack despite suffering a sixth defeat in seven matches in a nightmare start to life in the Championship.
Fulham looked to have bought the German time when they overturned a 2-0 deficit to lead 3-2 with 13 minutes left after Ross McCormack had paid back some of his £11m transfer fee with his first two league goals.
But bright though they were going forward, Fulham were a disaster at the back and three goals for Forest in the space of 12 minutes turned the match on its head a second time, with striker Britt Assombalonga completing a hat-trick, to take unbeaten Forest back to the top of the Championship.
Assombalonga took advantage of dreadful near-post marking to nod in Henri Lansbury’s free-kick and doubled the advantage from the penalty spot after Shaun Hutchinson brought down Michail Antonio. It looked a questionable decision but there was no excuse for Dan Burn manhandling referee Darren Deadman and he was fortunate to be shown only a yellow card.
Yet Fulham were given a foothold when McCormack curled home a superb 25-yard free kick in the 31st minute.
Fulham’s strong finish to the first half carried over to the second and they drew level in the 51st minute when Hugo Rodallega converted a poorly defended cross from Fernando Amorebieta.
Forest offered little by way of response and by the 65th minute Fulham were in front after Rodallega’s pass found McCormack and the former Leeds man beat Karl Darlow for the second time.
But after Forest manager Stuart Pearce made a tactical change to give himself an extra man up front, Forest seized back the initiative with two goals in as many minutes, Michail Antonio drilling the ball home before Assombalonga completed his hat-trick in style. Jamie Paterson added a fifth late on.
Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1): Darlow; Hunt, Mancienne, Fox, Lichaj (Wilson, 55); Osborn (Paterson 69), Tesche; Burke, Lansbury, Antonio; Assombalonga. Substitutes not used: Weldwijk, Lascelles, Vaughan, De Vries (gk), McLaughlin.
Fulham (4-1-3-2): Kiraly; Bodurov, Hutchinson (David h-t), Burn, Amorebieta; Parker; Hoogland, Fotheringham, Stafylidis; Rodallega, McCormack. Substitutes not used Bettinelli (gk), Eisfield, Roberts, Williams, Hyndman, Kavanagh.
Referee D Deadman (Cambridgeshire).Reuse content