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The EPL’s ‘second-best’ Brazilian playmaker: Willian marks first start back in England with creative flourish v Forest

By Ben Green

The EPL’s ‘second-best’ Brazilian playmaker- Willian marks first start back in England with creative flourish

Published: 22:20, 16 September 2022

Willian marked his first start back in the Premier League for Fulham with an equalising-assist to get his new side back in the game against Nottingham Forest.

Marco Silva’s men were trailing 1-0 at half-time to their fellow promoted club Nottingham Forest, but the Portuguese decided to stick rather than twist at the interval, and his decision to remain patient paid dividends as the Cottagers bounced back with a six-minute salvo.

Willian was the architect for Fulham’s supersonic turnaround, getting his first assist in the English top flight since his ill-fated spell at Arsenal, setting up Tosin Adarabioyo in the 54th minute, which marked the start of the Londoner’s City Ground redemption arc.

By setting up his teammate, Willian subsequently overtook compatriot Philippe Coutinho to become Brazil’s second-most prolific player in the Premier League, in terms of assists. He stood level with Coutinho on 38 assists prior to tonight — but he does remain some 10 set-ups behind Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino.

Still, only four teams have scored more than Fulham this season so far (12), and Silva boasts a certain Aleksandar Mitrovic up front, so Willian really could certainly bridge that gap slightly this season if he continues to hit the right notes in west London.

It was looking like a long drive back to the capital after only 10 minutes when Taiwo Awoniyi broke the deadlock for Steve Cooper’s men. But Fulham rallied. After Adarabioyo restored parity, Joao Palhinha got Fulham in front for thhe first time three minutes later, before Harrison Reed executed a coup de grace shortly after.

Forest pulled one back in the 77th minute through Lewis O’Brien, but it would prove a mere consolation, as the Cottagers held firm at the back and secured the three points. That result means Fulham are now up in sixth, above Chelsea and Liverpool.

They will be daring to dream of something bigger this time around rather than another relegation dogfight; a genuine attempt to rub shoulders with the top-half-of-the-table clubs.