Swansea City climbed to fourth in the Championship as Connor Roberts’ towering header gave them victory at Nottingham Forest.
Steve Cooper’s team are just two points adrift of leaders Norwich City after Roberts’ brave finish secured their third away league win of the campaign.
Wales defender Roberts rose high to put his team in front just before half-time and Forest could not find a response.
They were beaten at the City Ground for the first time under Chris Hughton, who had taken eight points from his four previous home games, and remain 21st in the table.
Hughton’s men asked questions at times but were kept at bay by Swansea who, having conceded only eight Championship goals in 2020-21, have the best defensive record in English football’s top four divisions.
They have lost only two of their 14 league games since defeat in last season’s play-offs and continue to look like a team capable of mounting another promotion push.
Forest began the contest with purpose, Sammy Ameobi making an early burst down the left before centring for Lyle Taylor, whose shot rolled across the face of goal.
Hughton has made Forest hard to beat on their own patch, and they were putting pressure on Swansea’s defence for much of the first half.
The hosts ought to have gone ahead on 39 minutes, when Anthony Knockaert cut in from the right flank on to his stronger left foot, only to drill a shot straight at Freddie Woodman, who kicked the ball clear.
Let off the hook, Swansea made Forest pay thanks to Roberts’ prodigious leap.
Andre Ayew lofted a hopeful ball into the penalty area which Forest centre-back Scott McKenna flicked towards the back post, where wing-back Roberts rose high above the 6ft 4in Ameobi to place a header beyond Brice Samba and put his team ahead.
There was almost no celebration from Roberts, whose reward for scoring for the first time this season was a bang in the face which prompted a lengthy spell of treatment.
Swansea threatened to double their lead early in the second period, with Ayew flashing one acrobatic volley wide before a second effort was blocked.
Forest attacked again, with the home bench appealing – unconvincingly it must be said – for a penalty as Taylor failed to connect with a volley under pressure from Ryan Bennett.
Knockaert dragged a half-volley wide before Taylor headed well over the bar, meaning Swansea and Roberts could finally celebrate his decisive goal.
Nottingham Forest manager Chris Hughton:
“I certainly don’t think we should have lost that game on the balance of play but credit to Swansea because they managed the game very well after the goal and they defended very well when they had to.
“It’s a similar story for us where we’ve had good periods of possession in the final third but we have to be able to capitalise on those periods and we’re not doing that at the moment.
“Against a good team like Swansea you’re not going to get many clear-cut chances and that’s why I’m disappointed that we didn’t take the ones that came along for us.
“After a decent first seven games for myself, we’ve now gone into a really disappointing three-game period and what we have to do is get ourselves out of this period as quickly as possible and that has to start on Wednesday.”
Swansea head coach Steve Cooper:
“I thought we were good for it. Forest are a good team. Apart from the teams that have come down from the Premier League, I think this is probably the strongest on paper – in experience and resource. You have to respect that.
“We did that but we also came here to win. All our motivation was around that, so to go and deliver a performance like that was really good.
“I would have like to score two or maybe three, but when that didn’t happen you naturally give up a bit of territory and have to do a bit of defending.
“Freddie made an excellent save in the first half but apart from that I don’t think he was really threatened.”
- 3FigueiredoBooked at 74mins
- 26McKennaBooked at 78mins
- 8ColbackSubstituted forArterat 37′minutesBooked at 51mins
- 19GuerreroSubstituted forLolleyat 53′minutes
- 11AmeobiSubstituted forSwanat 76′minutes
- 33TaylorBooked at 90mins
- 6Mbe Soh
- 18Ribeiro Dias
- 1WoodmanBooked at 87mins
- 6FultonBooked at 89mins
- 9LoweSubstituted forRoutledgeat 80′minutes
- 10A Ayew
Match ends, Nottingham Forest 0, Swansea City 1.
Second Half ends, Nottingham Forest 0, Swansea City 1.
Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Jake Bidwell.
Marc Guehi (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Anthony Knockaert (Nottingham Forest).
Foul by Jake Bidwell (Swansea City).
Ryan Yates (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Lyle Taylor (Nottingham Forest) is shown the yellow card.
Connor Roberts (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lyle Taylor (Nottingham Forest).
Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Korey Smith.
Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Marc Guehi.
Attempt blocked. Lyle Taylor (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Scott McKenna with a headed pass.
Jay Fulton (Swansea City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Jay Fulton (Swansea City).
Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Corner, Swansea City. Conceded by Tobias Figueiredo.
Attempt blocked. Connor Roberts (Swansea City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Freddie Woodman (Swansea City) is shown the yellow card.
Ryan Bennett (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
- Mike Tyson speaks to Eddie Hearn: Hear from the heavyweight legend as he returns to the ring
- Press X To Continue: Which artist thinks he’s the king of Call of Duty?