Anthony Elanga scored a rare club goal as Nottingham Forest beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for the first time since January 1995.
Elanga, brought on in the first half because of an injury to Danilo, calmly slotted in the game’s only goal three minutes after the break when he raced onto Taiwo Awoniyi’s pass following Moises Caicedo’s mistake.
It was Elanga’s first strike for Forest since his £15m move from Manchester United this summer and ended a personal club goal drought stretching back to February 2022.
Earlier, Chelsea had made a bright start to the match as they targeted a third consecutive victory under Mauricio Pochettino but it was Forest who should have taken the lead before half-time through the in-form Awoniyi, but the striker could not find the net despite scoring in each of his previous seven Premier League fixtures.
Chelsea boss Pochettino introduced new £42.5m signing Cole Palmer as he looked for a way back into the contest and almost found one, but Nicolas Jackson fired over from a few yards out late on after earlier being denied by a last-ditch block by Willy Boly.
Thiago Silva also went close as the clock ticked towards the final whistle and Raheem Sterling drilled an effort wide deep into stoppage time, but Forest held on for a famous victory – their first at Chelsea in over 28 years. The result lifted Steve Cooper’s team to ninth in the Premier League table, while Chelsea fell to 11th after their second defeat of the campaign.
Chelsea: Sanchez (6), Disasi (6), Silva (5), Colwill (6), Gusto (6), Gallagher (6), Caicedo (5), Chilwell (6), Sterling (7), Fernandez (6), Jackson (5).
Subs: Palmer (6), Madueke (6), Mudryk (6), Maatsen (6).
Nottingham Forest: Turner (7), Boly (8), Worrall (7), McKenna (7), Aurier (6), Mangala (6), Danilo (6), Aina (6), Yates (7), Gibbs-White (6), Awoniyi (7).
Subs: Elanga (8), Wood (6), Montiel (6), Tavares (6), Kouyate (6).
Player of the match: Anthony Elanga.
How Chelsea were stunned by Forest
Sterling, brimming with confidence after his double against Luton last week, had a good chance in the opening moments but Ola Aina’s brave challenge kept the Chelsea man at bay.
As the 28-year-old winger set about trying to prove he was worthy of a place in the England squad, it was Gallagher – who did make Gareth Southgate’s 26-player group – who bent a shot just wide of the target.
Sterling, the liveliest spark in Chelsea’s attack during a forgettable first half, crossed for Ben Chilwell but he could not turn home in the box as a stop-start opening 45 minutes wore on.
Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino named the same side that started last week’s 3-0 Premier League win over Luton Town at Stamford Bridge.
It meant new signing Cole Palmer was made to wait for his debut. He was among the substitutes along with Mykhailo Mudryk, who was available for selection again.
Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper made one change from the team that lost 3-2 to Manchester United in the Premier League last time out.
Orel Mangala was fit to start for the visitors and replaced Brennan Johnson, who left the club on Deadline Day. New signing Nuno Tavares was on the bench.
Forest enjoyed some possession down their right and earned a free-kick in a dangerous area when Silva dragged Awoniyi to the ground, but the striker flashed a shot over the crossbar after the resulting set-piece dropped to him in the area.
Having already scored at the Emirates and Old Trafford this season, Awoniyi came close again with an acrobatic close-range effort that flashed just wide of a post.
The visitors were forced into a change in first-half stoppage time as Danilo limped off after chasing a ball over the top. Elanga came on in his place and got off the mark for Forest shortly after the restart.
After spending a record £434.5m on new arrivals this summer, it was club-record signing Caicedo who was at fault for the goal. A heavy touch in midfield from the former Brighton man gifted possession to Forest with Chelsea’s defence out of position and the away side took full advantage.
Awoniyi threaded a pass through the legs of Silva and into the path of Elanga, who coolly slotted past Robert Sanchez to break the deadlock.
Chelsea toiled in their quest to draw level as Pochettino threw on Palmer, Noni Madueke, Ian Maatsen and Mykhailo Mudryk in search of a goal. It should have come through Jackson but the summer arrival from Villarreal turned over on the stretch from six yards after some good work from Sterling.
Eight minutes of stoppage time were signalled but despite registering 21 shots on goal, Chelsea only hit the target twice and Forest deservedly held on to secure a memorable three points.
Pochettino: Only a matter of time for Chelsea
Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino said: “We were not clinical in both areas. We made a mistake and then we created opportunities, but if you don’t score it is difficult to win games. This type of game I think will help us to be more mature, it is not only about having quality, it is also about competing in different ways.
“Of course, we can’t say that we didn’t deserve more, but in football the stats sometimes reflect what you do and in that case we created but we didn’t score and we only had a few shots on target.
“We are building something and it is always up and down. We are unlucky because I think we deserved more against West Ham and today – but I have said before, it is only a matter of time.”
Cooper: Forest used frustration from Man Utd loss
Steve Cooper said Nottingham Forest used the “belief and frustration” from their narrow defeat at Manchester United last weekend to steer them to a surprise win at Stamford Bridge.
Asked if the belief from the performance at Old Trafford had helped his players heading into the game at Chelsea, he replied: “Yes, I definitely think that – and also the frustration.
“We took that into the week and the guys spoke quite passionately in the dressing room after the (United) game and I reminded them of what some of them said in the build-up to this one and fair play to them, they took that into today.
“We knew it was going to be the type of game that it was – you don’t come here to plan to dominate possession and have chance after chance, but if you do certain things well you can create chances and keep a clean sheet. That is how it unfolded.”
Merson: Chelsea were slow and mundane
Sky Sports’ Paul Merson on Soccer Saturday:
“Forest defended very well, they put their bodies on the line. If you play 10 men behind the ball against Chelsea, they find it so difficult to break them down.
“It’s so slow and mundane. It’s never constant pressure, they never pin teams in. They never looked like scoring. This has been an issue for a couple of years now.”
Analysis: Big-spending Chelsea still a work in progress
Sky Sports’ Dan Sansom at Stamford Bridge:
In Chelsea’s matchday programme ahead of Nottingham Forest’s visit to Stamford Bridge, Mauricio Pochettino insisted he is “pleased with the progress” his new side is making. After a slow start to his reign, consecutive wins over Luton and AFC Wimbledon had lifted the mood in west London.
Those two results were hardly inspiring, but there were small signs of encouragement in each fixture to give Pochettino optimism about the direction Chelsea are heading in. That’s why Saturday’s shock home defeat by Forest will hurt the former Tottenham boss. It is a significant bump in the road.
It’s clear Chelsea are still a work in progress. Pochettino’s project will take time as he attempts to stamp his mark on a new squad full of young players. The Blues’ starting XI against Forest had an average age of 24.5, and there is nobody better than the 51-year-old at developing promising talent.
Pochettino will be confident of finding a winning formula and bringing his attractive style of football to Chelsea, but he won’t be naive. After spending a record £434.5m in the summer transfer window, he’ll know Todd Boehly and the rest of the club’s hierarchy will want to see clear improvements sooner rather than later.
Analysis: Forest will only get stronger despite Johnson’s departure
Sky Sports’ Dan Sansom at Stamford Bridge:
Brennan Johnson has arguably been Nottingham Forest’s most important player since they returned to the Premier League. His departure on Deadline Day was a significant blow, but Steve Cooper’s squad looks stronger now than it did before the 22-year-old moved to Tottenham.
Forest signed seven players on the final day of the transfer window, but not one was named in Cooper’s starting line-up as they stunned Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, which makes Saturday’s result even more impressive.
Only full-back Nuno Tavares was eligible to make his debut in west London. With Nicolas Dominguez, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Odysseas Vlachodimos, Ibrahim Sangare, Divock Origi and Andrew Omobamidele still to be integrated into the squad, Forest already look much better equipped to deal with the rigours of the Premier League than they did when they were promoted to the top flight last year.
Despite losing a valuable asset in Johnson, Cooper will be delighted with his summer business. He was serenaded by the visiting supporters at the final whistle after masterminding Forest’s first win at Chelsea in over 28 years. The Welshman deserved this victory after narrow defeats at Arsenal and Manchester United, and he now has the foundations to push on after the international break.
How the match played out…
Fantasy Premier League stats
FPL stats: Chelsea 0-1 Nottingham Forest
|Bonus points||Boly, Worrall (3) | McKenna, Elanga (1)|
Opta stats: A fifth home defeat for Chelsea in 2023
- Chelsea have lost their fifth Premier League home game in 2023, their most in a calendar year since 1995 (also five), while only in 1993 have they ever lost more in the competition (seven).
- The Blues had 21 shots against Nottingham Forest with just two hitting the target, the Blues last had a lower shooting accuracy in a Premier League game against Queens Park Rangers in January 2013.
- Nottingham Forest have defeated Chelsea in all competitions for the first time since January 1995 (2-0 in the Premier League), ending a run of nine such matches against the Blues without a victory (drawn two and lost seven).
- Forest have won just their second Premier League away game since their promotion in 2022 (D5 L16), ending a run of 12 such games without victory (drawn three and lost nine) since their 1-0 win against Southampton in January.
Chelsea head to Bournemouth after the international break on Sunday September 17, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 2pm.
Nottingham Forest host Burnley on September 18, live on Monday Night Football; kick-off 8pm.