It then took just seven second-half minutes for Sterling to turn the game on its head and remind those same supporters of the potential the England forward still has to transform a match single-handedly.
His first he owed to good work from Noni Madueke and Trevoh Chalobah down the right and to a fortunate deflection off Ryan Yates who lay stricken on the turf, but his second was a sublime solo effort, ramming the ball into Keylor Navas’ bottom corner after finding space inside the box.
Lampard said Sterling’s example was one the whole team would need to follow going into next season if Chelsea are to put this miserable campaign behind them.
“Raheem’s a player that has the credit in the bank, he’s been a regular scorer in the Premier League and for his country,” said the Blues boss.
“To see him score there (the first goal) was Raheem. Arriving for a cross, and then individual brilliance to score the (second) goal. I’m very happy for him. It’s what we need across the top end of the pitch.
“Raheem has done it and he’s produced it again. If you’re going to win games when you have 76 per cent possession, you need to be killers at the top end of the pitch, and Raheem is proven to be that. At the moment we don’t have enough of that.”
Making away games feel like home games always.
Thank you for your support in the capital today — the noise from that away end was simply incredible ❤️ pic.twitter.com/mQkdRQ77m1
— Nottingham Forest (@NFFC) May 13, 2023
Aside from Sterling’s solo intervention, there was little to suggest the goalscoring troubles that have derailed their season have an end in sight.
Lampard added: “What pleased me was not so much the week’s training, it was more the idea of what the plan is before the game that we were going to have a lot of ball in their half, so we have to be really dynamic to move their back five, we have to make sure our counter-press positions are good, which they are to be fair.
“What displeased me was that in the first half we didn’t do it with enough urgency to break the back five; sideways, safe. Then in the second half when we did, we underlapped them and get a goal and we showed urgency in our running forward and we get another goal.”
Forest kept themselves at the head of the Premier League’s four relegation-threatened sides with Awoniyi’s second goal of the game in the second half stealing a point, ensuring the gap to 18th-placed Leeds remained at three going into the season’s final two games.
“Probably a mix really of some disappointed guys in the dressing room, and I like that, because although we had to work really hard for what we got today, we could easily have got a little bit more,” said Forest boss Cooper.
“It’s the mixed feeling really of that, and also knowing that we gave everything, we stuck to the plan, we showed good resilience from going 2-1 down when really, I wouldn’t say we gifted it to Chelsea but we could have done so much better with them goals.
“We knew Chelsea were going to have the ball, we were away from home. But the game was going exactly as we wanted it to go. So to quickly turn it to go to 2-1 down and then to get something out of the game I think is a positive as well. There’s loads to take out of the game.
“It feels like we’re giving away goals more easily than how we’re scoring them. Look at the two goals today, great strategy in terms of the set-piece for the second one, good technique for the cross and the head for the first.
“I’ve never had to question the attitude, desire, resilience, commitment, that part of the mentality. At times a little bit of belief, and concentration and a bit of confidence away from home.
“That’s why at times we’ve had what we’ve had. It was good really after going 2-1 down to get something out of the game because I don’t think many would have backed us to get anything today.”