Nottingham Forest manager, Nuno Espirito Santo, is delighted with the goalscoring return of striker Taiwo Awoniyi after recovering from a groin injury he suffered last November, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
The 26-year-old, who aggravated the groin problem while on international duty, came off the bench at half time for Chris Wood to score his fifth goal in 11 Premier League games for Forest, who were beaten by visiting Arsenal 2-1.
Awoniyi struck in the 89th minute after bullying William Saliba with his strength in the box before poking in the ball past David Raya, in goal for the Gunners.
It was Awoniyi’s third goal in three games against Arsenal.
The Nigeria forward, making his first club appearance since November 12, changed Forest’s attack and almost snatched an undeserved point in stoppage time.
Excited by Awoniyi’s return, Santo praised Awoniyi for his impact in the game despite having only two training sessions with the team before the game.
“It is a positive to have him back,” Santo told Nottinghamshire Live.
“It was not our plan to play him for so many minutes because he has just had two sessions with the team. But unfortunately, due to the situation with Chris (Wood), we decided to put him in. It is a positive that he played. He had minutes, he scored, he worked.”
The Nigerian was Forest’s top scorer in his debut season with his 10 goals in 27 games.
Meanwhile, former England striker Dion Dublin believes Awoniyi’s introduction to the game came rather late.
“Awoniyi comes on and changes the game completely, “Dublin told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast
“You’re not going to play through Arsenal. Get it forward and play the best way to get a result for you. It came too late.”
“They should have done it earlier, I think they could have done it with Chris Wood maybe for 10-15 minutes towards the end.”
Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Arsenal was Nottingham Forest’s fifth home defeat of the season in the Premier League, matching their total from the entire 2022-23 campaign, and left them 16th in the EPL table — two points above Everton, who are in 18th place.