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Fulham 3-2 N Forest Cham 27 1415 The Guardian

last updated Friday 23rd January 2015, 5:35 PM

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The Guardian

Fulham (3) 3-2 (1) Nottingham Forest

Fulham striker Ross McCormack fired a first-half hat-trick as Fulham sank Nottingham Forest at Craven Cottage. The Scotland striker took his tally for the season to 10 with three long-range shots to increase the pressure on the Forest manager Stuart Pearce.

McCormack has rarely looked like the prolific scorer Fulham paid Leeds £11m for in the summer but Kit Symons was delighted with this performance.

"Ross was excellent. He took his goals really well," the Fulham manager said. "It's nice to see him scoring, although his overall contribution has never been in question. I don't care who scores the goals but I'm pleased for him."

Forest's first-team coach Brian Eastick said: "Frustration is the word, having played so well at Derby we came here pretty confident. But we shot ourselves in the foot big time. We lost the game in the first 20 minutes. If you give the quality of McCormack that much space and time he will punish you."

Forest threatened a comeback when Henri Lansbury scored either side of half-time, and would have dragged themselves level but for a glaring miss by their top-scorer, Britt Assombalonga.

Fulham held out for a victory which was a far cry from when the teams met at the City Ground in mid-September, with Forest top of the table and Fulham rock bottom.

A 5-3 defeat that day signalled the end of Felix Magath's spell in charge and such has been Fulham's revival under Kit Symons - and Forest's decline from those heady days - that the sides are level on points in mid-table.

Pearce hoped Forest had turned a corner after a dramatic 2-1 win at Derby on Saturday, their first win in nine attempts, but it was back to the drawing board after McCormack struck three times in 28 minutes.

He looked in the mood to give Forest a torrid time when, after three minutes, his vicious, swerving effort from the edge of the box was tipped over at full stretch by Dorus de Vries. The Forest keeper was beaten four minutes later when McCormack collected Hugo Rodallega's lay-off and buried a low shot into the corner of the net from 20 yards.

McCormack had his second in the 18th minute from the same range, driving off a post after Rodallega's effort had been blocked.

Forest should have pulled one back when a dreadful back-header from Kostas Stafylidis let in Assombalonga, but Marcus Bettinelli was out quickly to block his shot.

Moments later De Vries pulled off a fine, point-blank save to deny Seko Fofana but he was picking the ball out of the net again in the 35th minute as McCormack celebrated his hat-trick.

The former Leeds striker's shot from the left corner of the area took a big deflection off Todd Kane to loop over the helpless De Vries and into the net.

Forest did get on the scoresheet in first-half stoppage time when Lansbury curled in a fine free-kick from the edge of the area, and in the 62nd minute the former Arsenal midfielder prodded in his second. But Assombalonga somehow fluffed a golden chance when he missed an empty net with a header from three yards to prove it was not going to be Forest's night.

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