NOTTINGHAM Forest scored three goals within seven second-half minutes to beat Leeds United at the City Ground for the first time in almost seventeen years on Boxing Day.
Neil Warnock’s side took an early lead courtesy of former Derby County midfielder Paul Green and took control of the game until Reds’ striker Billy Sharp levelled matters from the spot just before the break.
And in a dramatic second period the Reds took charge as Sharp struck again before Rodolph Austin deflected the ball into his own net and Dexter Blackstock added a third with a clinical header.
Leeds pulled back a small consolation just before the final whistle when Davide Somma tapped home but Forest’s rampant display proved too much to overturn for the Yorkshire outfit.
The match began with both sides stringing together some good play without any real threat until Andy Reid nearly picked out Blackstock with a searching ball from the left-wing that just escaped the striker’s reach.
Leeds went into the match looking for a sixth win in seven league outings and opened the scoring in Nottingham with just 12 minutes on the clock.
Whites’ winger Jerome Thomas found El-Hadji Diouf in the box and the former Doncaster man saw his effort blocked by Reds’ shot-stopper Lee Camp before the rebound was slotted home by an alert Green.
After the goal the home side looked deflated and Leeds’ Jamaican midfielder Austin went close to doubling the advantage when his long-range effort only just cleared Camp’s bar.
Away goalkeeper Paddy Kenny was then called into action for the first time just after the half hour mark when Forest fashioned some pressure of their own – Elliott Ward diverting Reid’s free-kick just inches wide of the target.
The Reds continued to look the better side and were denied two appeals for penalties, one which looked a deliberate handball, before referee Lee Probert eventually pointed to the spot after defender Tom Lees upended Sharp.
The Southampton loanee stepped up to score, sending his old Sheffield United colleague Kenny the wrong way in the Leeds goal and putting the Reds back in the game.
And Reid could have put Sean O’Driscoll’s men ahead just before the interval as the Irishman forced Kenny into a sprawling save with his left-footed free-kick.
After the teams emerged from the tunnel for the second half the hosts looked bright on the attack and were causing Leeds early problems. Another good ball from Reid’s corner fell to Blackstock who glanced just wide.
And moments later the home side took the lead in style as Sharp struck his second goal of the game.
Ward had struck a long ball forward to Blackstock and the striker picked out his counterpart frontman, Sharp, who rounded Kenny with a classy touch before side-footing home.
Three minutes later Forest made it three as Leeds failed to clear a corner and Ward pulled the ball back into the box from the right where Whites’ midfield man Austin directed into his own net from close range.
And the City Ground home supporters were celebrating again soon after as the Reds hit a third to make it three goals in seven minutes. Reid’s superb left-wing ball found Blackstock and the Antigua and Barbuda international rose high to head the ball into the net with power.
Forest substitute Simon Cox nearly made it five moments later when the forward paced well clear of all the Leeds’ defence before attempting a lofted effort from just outside the area that dropped just above the bar.
Yet, Leeds still managed to grab some late solace in the dying seconds as they hit Forest on the counter for a late consolation - South African striker Somma converting Ross McCormack’s cross.
The Reds are now just a point outside the play-off places in 8th position. In their next outing they face another home game against high-flyers Crystal Palace on Saturday 29th December. Kick-off is at 3pm.
Nottingham Forest: Camp, Hutton, Ward, Collins (c), Halford, Cohen, Guedioura, Majewski (Moussi, 70), Reid (Lansbury, 83), Blackstock, Sharp (Cox, 77).
Leeds United: Kenny, Lees, Tate, Austin (Pearce, 66), Byram (McCormack, 79), Green, Diouf (Somma, 65) , Brown (c), Drury, Becchio, Thomas.
Man of the match: Billy Sharp.
Referee: Lee Probert.
Attendance: 26,670 (Away: 3,235).