Nottingham Forest returned to Championship action in style as they cruised to a superb 4-1 victory at Blackpool.
The visitors were 3-0 up at the break thanks to a terrific first half performance. Philip Zinckernagel opened the scoring, before a brilliant quick-fire brace from Brennan Johnson put Forest in command.
Zinckernagel had a penalty appeal waved away early on. But he got on the scoresheet with 11 minutes gone when a deflected effort looped over the goalkeeper.
Read more: Relive the action from Forest’s clash at Bloomfield Road
Read more: Forest boss Cooper names his team to face Blackpool
The Seasiders had some bright moments, but Johnson was ruthless in front of goal. His first of him was a well-struck first-time effort arrowed into the far corner. And then his second of him was dinked over Dan Grimshaw after good work to win the ball in the first place.
Forest created some more openings in the second half. But it was left to Sam Surridge to put the gloss on the scoreline as he came off the bench to make it 4-0.
The only disappointment was that the visitors didn’t keep a clean-sheet. Callum Connolly pulled one back at the death for the hosts.
Here’s how Reds reporter Sarah Clapson rated the Forest players at the City Ground.
Brice Samba: Almost like he’d never been out of the side. Gives the manager a big decision to make for the remaining games as he made some decent saves. Rating: 8/10
Joe Worrall: So close to a well-earned clean-sheet for the back line. Blackpool had their moments but were generally kept at bay. Almost caught out with a backward header in the first half, but otherwise solid. Rating: 8/10
Tobias Figueiredo: You have really stepped up in these last few games when given an opportunity. He did well again, including one occasion in the first half when he was alert to thwart Jerry Yates. Rating: 8/10
Scott McKenna: A huge boost to have him back in the starting XI much sooner than expected. Awesome assist for Surridge’s goal, that run was incredible. Rating: 8.5/10
Djed Spence: A real threat in the first half, especially. He made some terrific sprints down the right flank as Forest played some delightful football. Rating: 8/10
Ryan Yates: ‘If Yatesy scores, we’re in the sea,’ sang the fans away. About the only thing he didn’t do at Bloomfield Road. Another terrific performance. Rating: 9/10
James Garner: Neat and tidy in the center of the pitch. He has really grown in the second half of this season, again looking so comfortable on the ball. Rating: 8/10
Jack Colback: Can see why the manager continues to depend on him to fill in at left wing-back. Such a reliable performer. Rating: 8/10
Brennan Johnson: Composure beyond his years with two brilliant, clinical finishes in the first half, plus an assist. What a talent he is. outstanding. Rating: 9/10
Philip Zinckernagel: Will absolutely be claiming the opener, despite the deflection. He could have had a second after the break when played clean through, but was warned by the goalkeeper. Rating: 8/10
Keinan Davis: Strength was a real thorn in Blackpool’s side. He worked really hard to create openings for his teammates. Rating: 8.5/10
Sam Surridge (for Davis, 66mins): Delightful finish to wrap up a fabulous team performance. Ruthless when it comes to taking his chances. Rating: 8/10
Lewis Grabban (for Johnson, 66mins): Cooper said he’d looked sharp in training. And that was definitely the case on the pitch. He some nice touches and he had the ball in the net in added time, only for the flag to be raised. Rating: 8/10
Joe Lolley (for Zinckernagel, 74mins): Unlucky to drop out of the starting XI. He looked bright again, though. Rating: 7.5/10
Subs not used: Horvath, Mbe Soh, Mighten, Cafu.
What did you make of Forest’s performance? Have your say in the comments below