Not that Chelsea really merited three. The overall quality of football from supposedly two of the country's more enlightened clubs was hugely disappointing, but after poor results the previous Saturday and almost choking on the Coca-Cola Cup during the week perhaps it was not surprising.
Having experimented with a four-man defence at Liverpool, Ruud Gullit reverted to the wing-back system and with Forest adopting the same approach the wide players cancelled each other out. The game spluttered around midfield where Chelsea struggled with their opponents' stifling tactics, while Forest just fired off hopeful long passes for their front two to chase.
Gullit later bemoaned his team's failure to take their chances, but until Mark Hughes combined fluently with Gianluca Vialli in the 75th minute before shooting weakly straight at Mark Crossley, the score in terms of clear-cut opportunities was two apiece.
After nine minutes Vialli should have done better than to rattle the crossbar from Roberto Di Matteo's astute pass, and a minute before the interval Dan Petrescu made a complete hash of an attempted lob over Crossley from close range. In between times, both Bryan Roy and Dean Saunders should have scored after beating Chelsea's offside trap.
Vialli eventually made amends thanks to slack defending from Forest, shooting low past Crossley's right hand following good work from Dennis Wise.
But just when you were thinking how refreshing it was not to see the usual stream of time-wasting substitutions in the closing moments by a team defending a slender lead, Ian Woan's speculative long pass caught Michael Duberry napping and Lee nipped in to chip Hitchcock.
Goals: Vialli (49) 1-0; J Lee (90) 1-1.
Chelsea (5-3-2): Hitchcock; Petrescu, Duberry, Leboeuf, Clarke, Minto; Burley, Di Matteo, Wise; Hughes, Vialli. Substitutes not used: Spencer, D Lee, Johnsen, Morris, Grodas (gk).
Nottingham Forest (5-3-2): Crossley; Lyttle (McGregor, 86), Cooper, Jerkan, Pearce, Haland; Phillips, Woan, Bart-Williams (Allen, 73); Roy (J Lee, h-t), Saunders. Substitutes not used: Gemmill, Fettis (gk).
Referee: G Poll (Tring).
Bookings: Chelsea: Duberry, Leboeuf, Hughes, Minto. Forest: Haland.
Man of the match: Clarke.
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