Ashley Young’s spectacular strike won Aston Villa a 1-1 draw on Monday against relegation rivals Nottingham Forest, who climbed off the Premier League’s bottom spot.
Early in the first half, Emmanuel Dennis put Steve Cooper’s team ahead at the City Ground before Young equalised with a long-range rocket. Forest moved one point ahead of Leicester in 19th place after breaking their five-match losing streak.
But Forest have won just one of their nine league games this season and face an uphill battle to prevent relegation back to the Championship.
“It’s a step in the right direction. It’s not the ambition to be drawing at home and not having much of the ball but in the circumstances we have to accept tonight was a forward step,” Cooper said.
“You lose five games on the bounce and that is when you might see people hiding but I am seeing the opposite of that.”
“What happened last season was unbelievable but we’re in this league and it is a different sport to the Championship. If we don’t change a little bit it would be naive.”
Villa are unbeaten in their last four games, but Steven Gerrard’s team are also in relegation danger.
Villa have won only once in their last seven league matches and sit just three points above the bottom three.
“It was a fantastic strike and it was one of a few moments of quality in the final third. Ashley Young is leading by example for us at the moment and we are really pleased with him,” Gerrard said.
“I don’t think we created enough to say we deserved to win. We are close to turning draws into wins but to do that we need big players to step forward for us.”
Forest took the lead thanks to a well-worked free-kick from Morgan Gibbs-White, who found Dennis for a looping header beyond Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez.
Dennis scored his first goal for Forest since coming from Watford for £20 million ($22 million) in August, but Villa responded perfectly seven minutes later.
Young goal into the bottom corner came after Ollie Watkins nodded down to him 25 yards from goal.
Forest challenged Villa’s Jacob Ramsey for a foul on Ryan Yates in the build-up, but Young’s first goal for the club since 2011 was upheld.
Young, 37, is Villa’s second-oldest Premier League scorer, trailing only Peter Schmeichel, the Danish goalkeeper who scored just a few months earlier in 2001.