NOTTINGHAM, England (Reuters) -Morgan Gibbs-White grabbed the only goal as Nottingham Forest beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at the City Ground on Saturday to ensure that they will not spend Christmas at the bottom of the Premier League.
Forest's third victory of the season in their final game before the World Cup break lifted them off the bottom of the standings to 18th place on 13 points, one ahead of Southampton, who lost 3-1 to Liverpool, and three ahead of Wolverhampton Wanderers, who were facing leaders Arsenal later on Saturday.
"We rode our luck with the penalty but I thought the best team won," Forest manager Steve Cooper told the BBC.
"They've not really created another chance in the game and we did -- we should have scored one or two more with the positions we got in.
"We know we've got a lot of work to do. Whatever happened today the league position wasn't going to look great but at least we're making positive steps, at least we're picking up points."
Wilfried Zaha got off to a good start for Palace with some promising raids down the left, but it was Jesse Lingard who came closest to breaking the deadlock early on.
Still searching for his first Premier League goal for Forest, the 29-year-old steamed in at the far post in the 16th minute but could not get a touch on a cross from Brennan Johnson and the ball flew wide.
The lively Lingard thought he had won a penalty when he was tripped in the 29th minute by Tyrick Mitchell, but the foul took place just outside the penalty area and resulted in only a free kick and a yellow card for the Palace defender.
Instead, it was Palace who were awarded a spot-kick when Joe Worrall brought down Zaha just before halftime. Zaha took the penalty himself but fired wide.
With neither side managing to get many shots on target, Gibbs-White finally put the ball in the net in the 54th minute after pouncing on the rebound from a Johnson shot and, though the assistant referee initially ruled he was offside, the goal was allowed to stand after a lengthy VAR review.
Lingard could have killed off the game in the 75th minute after a brilliant Forest attack in which Gibbs-White picked out Brennan in the box. However, Lingard hit Brennan's pass wide of the right-hand post with the goal at his mercy.
Palace left plenty of space for Forest to exploit as they poured forward looking for an equaliser, but the home side hung on for a much-needed win.
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor, additional reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk, editing by Ed Osmond, Christian Radnedge and Clare Fallon)