Chelsea boost European hopes as late goals stun Nottingham Forest

Chelsea continued their late surge for European qualification with a frantic 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest, who missed the chance to confirm their Premier League survival in style.

Goals from Mykhailo Mudryk, Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Jackson made it three successive wins for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who are now level with sixth-placed Newcastle with two games to go.

Pochettino, who has said his future at the club will be decided “in one week”, could yet lead the Blues into the Europa League or Europa Conference League, depending on Manchester United’s final league position and whether they win the FA Cup or not.

Forest had looked like sealing their top-flight status with a win after goals from Willy Boly and Callum Hudson-Odoi put them 2-1 up, but they are still all but safe from relegation.

They are three points above 18th-placed Luton and 12 goals better off with one game left, so it would take some turnaround for them to go down on the final day.

Given their four-point deduction for breaking Premier League financial rules and resentment at the refereeing decisions they feel have gone against them this season, Forest will see survival as a defiant response to the Premier League.

No one will be happier than Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis, who has enjoyed quite a week, having being in Athens on Thursday night to see his other club Olympiacos beat Aston Villa in the Europa Conference League semi-final and reach a first ever European final.

With Burnley and Luton losing earlier in the afternoon, there was a party atmosphere at the City Ground.

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Despite their virtual safety, Forest fans were not going to let the events of a turbulent season slide as they loudly booed the Premier League anthem and unfurled a banner which read, ‘When they try to keep us down we show them who they are’.

But Chelsea were ready to play party poopers and went ahead in the eighth minute.

Cole Palmer played in Mudryk with an incisive pass and the Ukrainian got in front of his marker and found the bottom corner.

Forest’s response was good and they levelled eight minutes later as Boly got free of his marker at the far post and headed a free-kick into the bottom corner, with the help of a deflection.

As they chased the three points which would secure their safety, Forest twice hit the woodwork in the opening 15 minutes of the second half.

Ryan Yates skimmed a post with a 20-yard drive and then Morgan Gibbs-White headed against the frame from close range, with Chris Wood somehow hitting the rebound over from two yards out.

After Thiago Silva headed against a post at the other end, Forest were denied by the woodwork for a third time when Hudson-Odoi’s deflected effort hit the crossbar.

Hudson-Odoi went one better in the 74th minute as he surged forward, cut inside and found the bottom corner with a curling effort.

But jubilant home celebrations were cut short by two goals in two minutes for Chelsea.

First Sterling, back from injury, curled into the far corner and then 119 seconds later Jackson headed home to hand the visitors the points.

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