Nottingham Forest moved up to third in the Championship table as they defeated Birmingham City to record their fifth consecutive league win.
Keinan Davis opened the scoring after five minutes, slotting the ball past Blues goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who was later stretched off, from a tight angle.
Forest missed a string of chances to double their advantage, with Brennan Johnson and Joe Worrall off-target.
Steve Cooper’s in-form side wrapped the game up 11 minutes from time when Scott McKenna headed in a corner.
Forest are now unbeaten in 10 games, including seven wins, and are six points behind second-placed Bournemouth, while defeat sees Blues remain in 18th.
It was the perfect start for the hosts as Philip Zinckernagel won the ball to start a quick counter attack, finding Johnson, who fed Davis to allow the on-loan Aston Villa striker to power into the area and finish well for his fifth goal of the season.
The hosts kept the pressure on and Johnson sent a header over the bar from James Garner’s corner after 20 minutes, before Worrall also fired over when following-up a Garner corner.
Birmingham finally tested Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba with two efforts in five minutes just after the half-hour mark with Kristian Pedersen and Taylor Richards both forcing him into smart saves.
Garner sent a curling shot narrowly wide of Etheridge’s post shortly before half-time as Forest went into the break a goal up.
Forest came out in the second half with intent to put the game to bed early and Etheridge was forced into three saves, twice denying Davis his second and palming away Ryan Yates’ long-distance effort.
There was a lengthy break in play shortly after the hour mark when Etheridge collided with Djed Spence and was carried off after lengthy treatment on the pitch.
Birmingham had struggled to deal with corners all afternoon and in the 79th minute McKenna held off his marker to head in a corner and seal the three points.
Forest boss Steve Cooper:
“People tell me that we had never won three games on the bounce after an international break so that was a challenge we gave to the players before the game.
“I think we have been good for what we have got throughout the week and we were certainly good for the win today. The nine points we have picked-up have been well-deserved.
“We could and should have scored more goals, because we got in some great positions. We have to go to Luton and not look any further beyond that. We keep our heads down, we work hard and we prepare for another game next weekend. “
Blues head coach Lee Bowyer told BBC WM:
“I feel this is quite similar to the game we played them at home and the game I watched on Wednesday against Coventry. I felt, taking the goal away in the first half, we were the better side.
“The two boxes are the most important areas on the pitch and they showed a bit more quality in the final third.
“We didn’t take care of the final pass or finish but I can’t fault the players, they gave everything and we asked a lot of questions of a very good team.”
On Neil Etheridge’s injury:
“He came off with concussion. He was out cold getting treatment on the pitch but everyone reacted in the right way.
“He’s stable but he’s gone to hospital so hopefully we’ll get some positive news soon. He got to the ball first and unfortunately sometimes you get those collisions. Two players committed and going for the ball and that’s all it was”
- 11ZinckernagelBooked at 54minsSubstituted forlolleydid 81′minutes
- 20JohnsonSubstituted forGrabbandid 81′minutes
- 9DavisSubstituted forsurridgedid 81′minutes
- 18Ribeiro Dias
- 1EtheridgeSubstituted forTruemandid 70′minutes
- 50GordonBooked at 25mins
- 2HakeBooked at 59mins
- 25HernandezSubstituted forGrahamdid 76′minutes
- 20GardnerBooked at 43mins
- 8RichardsSubstituted forJutkiewiczdid 82′minutes
- 9hoganSubstituted forDeeneydid 82′minutes
- Gavin Ward
Match ends, Nottingham Forest 2, Birmingham City 0.
Second Half-ends, Nottingham Forest 2, Birmingham City 0.
Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Jack Colback.
Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Jack Colback.
Attempt missed. Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham City) header from the center of the box is too high. Assisted by Jordan Graham with a cross.
Corner, NottinghamForest. Conceded by Marc Roberts.
Attempt blocked. Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from the center of the box is blocked. Assisted by Djed Spence.
Attempt missed. Troy Deeney (Birmingham City) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Lukas Jutkiewicz with a cross.
Foul by Scott McKenna (Nottingham Forest).
Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Troy Deeney (Birmingham City) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Jordan Graham with a cross.
Corner, NottinghamForest. Conceded by Ivan Sunjic.
Joe Worrall (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Juninho Bacuna (Birmingham City).
Substitute, Birmingham City. Lukas Jutkiewicz replaces Taylor Richards.
Substitute, Birmingham City. Troy Deeney replaces Scott Hogan.
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Sam Surridge replaces Keinan Davis.
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Joe Lolley replaces Philip Zinckernagel.
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Lewis Grabban replaces Brennan Johnson.
Goal! Nottingham Forest 2, Birmingham City 0. Scott McKenna (Nottingham Forest) header from very close range to the top right corner. Assisted by James Garner with a cross following a corner.