Manager Martin O’Neill hailed a “big win” as Nottingham Forest heightened their play-off ambitions with a 3-0 victory over Hull.
Forest are now just two points off the Sky Bet Championship top six thanks to an ultimately convincing triumph at the City Ground.
There had been little to choose between the two sides in a scrappy first half, but Forest cut loose after the restart by scoring three times in quick succession through Joao Carvalho, Karim Ansarifard and Joe Lolley.
O’Neill said: “We’re in the (play-off) battle. It’s a still a long road, but the players have a lot of confidence about themselves.
“These next two games (at home to Aston Villa and away to Ipswich) are big for us before the international break, but at least that’s another three points.
“We’ll take them and we’ll be delighted with them. That’s four consecutive victories here and it was a big win.”
Substitute Carvalho’s exceptional long-distance strike gave the hosts a 72nd-minute lead from which Hull could not recover.
Fellow substitute Ansarifard made it 2-0 just four minutes later before Lolley added gloss to the scoreline from the penalty spot.
O’Neill was especially thrilled with Carvalho’s contribution as Forest ended a run of five consecutive home defeats to Hull.
He said: “The game was drifting and needed a spark, which was provided by Joao.
“It was a magnificent goal to win the game – that got us going. I was ecstatic about the goal, and he was as well.
“That will give him a massive amount of confidence.”
O’Neill added: “It was a tough old first half. The substitutes had a very, very important part to play for us.
“But I also thought there were some excellent performances from us.
“I’m delighted with the victory and delighted with the players.”
Hull have now lost four away games on the spin but manager Nigel Adkins refused to rule out an increasingly improbable tilt at the play-offs.
He said: “Before the game we were four points off the play-offs and now we are five points.
“We’ll reflect on this and prepare for the next game at top-of-the-table Norwich.
“We kept the home crowd quiet for long periods, but maybe we didn’t have that final decisive pass in the final third.
“The first goal was going to be decisive, but it’s fair to say it was a wonder strike from the lad.
“Sometimes it’s fine margins, but that’s given the home side the impetus to win the game – and then the second goal has taken it away from us.
“The scoreline’s the wrong one, but for long periods we were well and truly in the game.
“We wanted to win and we played some good football again, but you’ve got to go and score.”
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