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Nottingham Forest 5-3 Fulham Cham 07 1415 The Guardian

last updated Thursday 18th September 2014, 8:52 PM

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The Guardian

Nottingham Forest (2) 5-3 (1) Fulham

Britt Assombalonga scored a hat-trick as Nottingham Forest fought back in a remarkable seesaw encounter to return to the top of the Championship table.

The defeat keeps the pressure firmly on Fulham's Felix Magath, whose side fought back valiantly after going two goals down - scored by Assombalonga - to take the lead, thanks to a Ross McCormack double and a goal from Hugo Rodallega.

However, Michail Antonio managed to draw shell-shocked Forest level and a reeling Fulham side were punished by an alert Assombalonga, with the substitute Jamie Paterson completing the scoring.

In an attempt to arrest his side's slump, Magath made five changes to his Fulham starting XI, with Kostas Staflydis, Shaun Hutchinson, Mark Fotheringham and Rodallega all returning, while Fernando Amorebieta was given his first outing of the campaign.

Injuries to Chris Cohen, Andy Reid and Jack Hobbs forced the Forest manager, Stuart Pearce, into reshuffling his pack, as Robert Tesche and Ben Osborn earned their first league starts of the season, with Danny Fox also entering the fray.

Despite a bright early start it took only nine minutes for Fulham to have that familiar sinking feeling as Forest took the lead with their first attack of the game. Antonio was upended by Nikolay Bodurov and, from Henri Lansbury's whipped-in free-kick, Assombalonga rose to head powerfully past Gabor Kiraly.

Assombalonga increased Fulham's misery from the penalty spot after 20 minutes. Antonio's brilliant run into the area was crudely halted by Hutchinson, who was booked - as was Dan Burn, who manhandled the referee, Darren Deadman - and Assombalonga fired his kick into a corner.

The Fulham manager sat motionless by the dugout as chants of "Magath out" rang out from the small pocket of visiting supporters situated behind Kiraly's goal. Then, just past the hour, Jack Hunt's foul on Staflydis presented the £11m-man McCormack with a free shot on goal and he hauled Fulham back into the match by delivering a stunning set piece past the despairing dive of Karl Darlow for his first league goal for the London club.

Rodallega should have levelled as he latched on to a through-ball but, as he rounded Darlow and shot goalwards, Eric Lichaj rushed back to clear off the line.

Bodurov fired over when unmarked in the Forest box as Fulham came out with renewed vigour and their early energy was rewarded when Amorebieta's cross was smartly diverted home by Rodallega.

Forest were falling apart and rampant Fulham amazingly grabbed the lead after 64 minutes, with McCormack firing them ahead after a three-man move between himself, Rodallega and the substitute Chris David. Darlow had to get down low to keep out a McCormack effort as the former Leeds star began to rip the Forest defence to shreds, before curling another effort just wide.

However, Forest awoke from their slumber to restore parity after 77 minutes as Antonio latched on to a brilliant pass from the captain, Michael Mancienne, to crack home.

After looking almost dead and buried, Pearce's side suddenly found themselves ahead two minutes later when Assombalonga's header hit a post but he reacted quickest to stab the ball home. Forest then sealed victory in the 89th minute when Paterson ran through on goal to dispatch the ball past Kiraly from 15 yards.

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