Alvaro Morata scored twice to ease FA Cup holders Chelsea into the fourth round but there was no evidence the Spain striker might be starting to enjoy himself.
Morata found it hard to even summon a smile, never mind celebrate either of his goals and he trudged down the tunnel wearing a dejected expression when he was replaced near the end.
His first goal was a firm side-footer, rapped in at the near post, and the second a true centre-forward’s header, climbing above Claudio Yacob at the back post and taking his tally to nine for the season.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Chelsea 4-3-3: Caballero 6; Zappacosta 6, Christensen 6, Luiz 6, Emerson 6.5; Ampadu 6.5, Fabregas 7 (Kante 85), Barkley 7; Loftus-Cheek 6.5 (Hazard 42 min, 6.5), Morata 7 (Azpilicueta 74), Hudson-Odoi 7.5.
Goals: Morata 49, 59
Subs: Arrizabalaga, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Moses, Kante, Jorginho, Hazard.
Manager: Maurizio Sarri 7
Forest 4-2-3-1: Steele 7; Darikwa 6, Yacob 6, Fox 6, Janko 5; Colback 6, Guedioura 6.5; Cash 5 (Lolley 57, 6), Carvalho 5.5, Osborn 6; Murphy 6.
Subs: Smith, Robinson, Yates, Lolley, Dias, Appiah, Ahmedhodzic
Manager: Aitor Karanka
Ref: Andrew Madley
Morata’s mood may have been influenced by his contribution towards the ‘Miss of the Season’ montage when he somehow turned a low cross from Ross Barkley over an open goal from no more than three yards out.
He was actually offside but he did not realise, and perhaps a hat-trick might have lifted his spirits at a time when little else seems to do the trick.
‘Everyone is different,’ said Chelsea coach Carlo Cudicini afterwards. ‘Some players can be more affected by the criticism they receive.
‘For a striker it is difficult when you go through a spell where you don’t score many goals. His body language was a bit down. But he’s working hard in training and we knew he would turn a corner. He did it, today.
‘That’s important because we really care about this competition and we want to do well. And it can only be good for his confidence.
‘Hopefully this is good for his morale and he will be more free in his mind… he is a great striker. He has great qualities and now that his confidence is back I’m sure he can carry on scoring goals for us.’
Both of Morata’s goals against Forest were created by teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi who produced an exciting second-half performance on the right wing which will do nothing to end the interest from Bayern Munich.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek started on the right of Maurizio Sarri’s three-man attack but did not make it to half-time before he was forced off with a recurrence of back trouble which has been niggling away and causing discomfort.
Loftus-Cheek looked distraught as he came off to be replaced by Eden Hazard who took up his usual position on the left.
Hudson-Odoi switched to the right where he became more influential.
Morata seems to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders from the outset and his troubles were summed up by an incident when he was released through on goal when the game was goalless.
Turning to collect a pass from Cesc Fabregas and run into the penalty area Morata got his feet tangled with Yacob’s and tumbled easily to the ground.
Referee Andrew Madley waved play on which prompted the striker leap up and furiously mime a television screen with his hands only to find the Video Assistant Referee was not in operation at Stamford Bridge. Only in the televised ties in the FA Cup third round.
Forest creaked under early pressure and conceded a penalty when Loftus-Cheek’s feet proved too quick for Danny Fox who chopped him down and did not complain when Madley pointed to the spot.
It was tempting to wonder if sentiment had gone too far with Fabregas, captain in what he clearly considered to be his final appearance for the club before a transfer to Monaco.
Five minutes from time, he signalled to Sarri that he could not continue, pointing to his calf, and then milked an ovation as he shuffled off the pitch, kissing team-mates along the way and bidding farewell to all corners of the ground.
Three different Chelsea players had come off on the brink of tears, all for different reasons.
Adlene Guedioura had a long range effort kept out by Willy Caballero and Daryl Murphy forced a save with a header but Chelsea cruised into the fourth round with little fuss.
‘Chelsea were much better than us,’ said Karanka. ‘We can see the difference in level. This are the kind of games where I cannot complain to my players. They never gave up. Always trying to play even in the last minute.’