Nottingham Forest end winless run in style
Nottingham Forest ended a run of six Sky Bet Championship games without a win as they beat Birmingham 3-1 at the City Ground.
Reds boss Philippe Montanier had one of the best seats in the house as he sat out the first of a two-match touchline ban by watching from the directors' box - and will have been delighted with what he saw.
Eric Lichaj gave the hosts a half-time lead before goals from substitutes Apostolos Vellios and Hildeberto Pereira came either side of a Lukas Jutkiewicz header that had briefly given Birmingham hope.
Gary Rowett, on the other hand, will have been frustrated after seeing Birmingham's eight-match unbeaten streak on the road end.
It was Forest who were the first to threaten, with Henri Lansbury trying his luck from the edge of the box in the first minute, with Birmingham goalkeeper Adam Legzdins spilling and only holding at the second attempt, just as Ben Osborn threatened to pounce.
Legzdins was looking nervous and, when Lansbury fired in a free-kick in the ninth minute, he beat the keeper inside his near post with a low shot, after initially shaping as if he would cross.
But, after some delay and a long conversation with his assistant referee, referee Jeremy Simpson disallowed the goal, apparently for an offside spotted within a packed penalty area, which Lansbury had threaded the ball through.
Forest continued to carve out chances from set-pieces, with Nicklas Bendtner looping a header just wide following an Osborn free-kick, while Lansbury forced another save from Legzdins with yet another free-kick.
When the Forest goal came, it was from open play, however. Bendtner's fine pass picked out Lichaj on the right-hand side and the American controlled on his chest before lashing an unstoppable shot across goal and inside the far post.
By the interval, Forest keeper Vladimir Stojkovic had not had a save to make.
Forest suffered a blow when Bendtner had to be carried off injured after Michael Morrison had gone through the back of him, with referee Simpson failing to award a free-kick.
But the man who replaced him, Vellios, was soon in the thick of the action as Forest doubled their advantage in the 63rd minute. When Lansbury fired in a cross from the left, the Greece international was the quickest to react, sliding home a simple finish from close range.
Birmingham pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute when Ryan Shotton whipped in a cross from the right and Jutkiewicz nodded home.
But substitute Pereira had an almost immediate impact, carrying the ball half the length of the pitch from inside his own penalty area before feeding Osborn down the left. Pereira continued his run and, when Osborn picked him out in the centre, slotted home a composed finish seven minutes from the end.