Liverpool surrendered two precious FA Carling Premiership championship points as they failed to kill-off battling relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest at the City Ground. The Reds are now three points adrift of Manchester United who overcame Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford.
Liverpool had started the game as if they intended to run up a cricket score and Forest were left chasing shadows with the incisiveness of Liverpool's play. Roy Evans's side exuded confidence with their neat one-touch passing and quickfire breaks and it was a case of men against boys for the first quarter.
Jamie Redknapp was influential in the centre of the park and the signs were gloomy for Stuart Pearce's side.
But the men from Anfield should have added to Fowler's early strike but Forest somehow survived and slowly but surely forced their way back into the match.
Pierre van Hooydonk, on his home debut after his £4.5million move from Celtic, and Dean Saunders in one of his best games of the season posed constant problems for the Liverpool rearguard.
Alfie Haaland, who is still refusing to commit himself to a new deal at Forest, also had a fine game in midfield, as his side enjoyed more of the possession in the second period. But there was also plenty of the guts and determination that Forest are going to need to display if they are to have any chance of beating the drop in the final seven matches.
Liverpool were soon into their stride and went ahead after only three minutes after a crossfield ball from Jamie Redknapp found Jason McAteer in space on the right flank. He held off the challenge of Ian Woan and his low cross found Robbie Fowler who gave Forest 'keeper Mark Crossley no chance with a quickfire cross-shot.
Fowler should have made it 2-0 three minutes later after Patrik Berger's pass found him completely unmarked but he inexplicably completely missed his kick from 12 yards out.
Liverpool threatened to swamp the home side in the first quarter with their one-touch play and lightning counter-attacks. Fowler was allowed a free run into the area as the Forest defence backed off and his shot was punched up by Crossley and looped over the crossbar. Crossley then beat out a fierce effort from Berger and McManaman's first time shot from 15 yards out sailed only a yard wide.
But Forest somehow weathered the storm and Dean Saunders missed one golden chance from close range before they drew level in the 30th minute.
Liverpool 'keeper David James failed to collect a Stuart Pearce free-kick after coming towards the edge of the penalty area. The ball eventually broke to Scott Gemmill on the edge of the area and he turned it to Woan whose rising 20 yard shot flew into the top corner with James out of position. Liverpool were stunned back into action with Crossley blocking a shot from Berger with his legs and then being relieved to see a 20 yard effort from Redknapp sail inches wide. But Saunders became more of a threat to the Liverpool rearguard and James had to be alert to deal with one low drive from the edge of the area.
Forest were the more threatening side after the change-round and McAteer came to Liverpool's rescue in the 52nd minute when he cleared Steve Chettle's header off the line. The Republic of Ireland international suffered a head injury in the process and had to be substituted. James atoned for his error regarding the Forest equaliser when he produced a brilliant one-handed save to keep out a 20-yard effort from van Hooydonk. James also had to react quickly to keep out a curling dipping effort from Saunders.
Copyright - Press Association.