Pep Guardiola’s side made a flying start at the Etihad, racing into a two-goal lead inside 15 minutes thanks to Foden’s first goal of the season - after a stunning 46-pass move - and an eighth strike this campaign from Haaland.
But the game then turned on its head two minutes after the restart when Rodrigo was shown a straight red card by referee Anthony Taylor for violent conduct, a decision upheld by VAR.
It meant City had to dig deep for the remainder of what was a bad tempered, feisty affair that featured 10 yellow cards as well as that Rodrigo red.
But the champions showed great character to hold firm and maintain our 100 per cent record, in the process moving five points clear at the top of the table – a fitting way to celebrate what was our 300th Premier League home win.
Buoyed by a 100 per cent start to the season that had brought us five straight league wins, the champions stepped out for our latest assignment full of confidence and belief.
Accordingly, City went straight on the offensive and powered into a two-goal lead inside a fast and furious opening 15 minutes.
City weren’t to be denied however and a quite stunning move – one that featured a remarkable 46 passes in total - saw Foden open our account in superb fashion after just seven minutes to get the Etihad rocking.
The City skipper instinctively fed the ball back in the direction of the waiting Foden and the England international rifled home a stunning left footed drive into the bottom right corner of the net to register his first goal of the season.
Within seven minutes City had doubled our advantage through, who else, Erling Haaland.
He, in turn, dinked in the most inviting of crosses deep into the box and Haaland – who bagged a hat-trick here last season against Forest – needed no second invitation to power home an unstoppable header.
In an action packed first quarter, City then conceded possession to Taiwo Awoniyi, who powered through to the edge of the box before tumbling over.
City though were in irresistible form, and we almost tripled our lead on the half hour after another sumptuous, sweeping move opened up the visitors’ defence.
A pin-point angled pass from Alvarez put Doku in on the blind side on the left flank and, in turn he picked out the advancing Argentine as he raced into the heart of the box only for a desperate lunge from Ibrahim Sangare to deny the City man.
With half time approaching though Dias had to be at his most alert to snuff out the danger after Taiwo Awoniyi had wrestled possession from Nunes.
There was then an explosive and dramatic start to the second half as Rodrigo was shown a straight red card for violent conduct after a tangle with Morgan Gibbs-White.
The pair clashed on the left edge of the City box with referee Anthony Taylor dismissing the Spanish international after he appeared to make contact with Gibbs-White’s throat, the decision upheld after a VAR check.
It was now a contest of a completely different complexion and made for a feisty atmosphere both on and off the field with an impassioned Guardiola urging the fans to further turn up the volume.
Haaland had the chance to seal victory but could only turn Ake's inviting cross over the bar while at the other end City showed great resilience to dig deep to keep the visitors at bay with Ederson making two superb late saves deep into injury time.
In essence it was a win that demonstrated both sides of the coin of Guardiola's City - talent and technique by the bucketful allied to grit and guile.
The very essence of champions one might say...
Subs: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Gomez, Bobb, Lewis
FOREST: Turner, Aurier (C) (Hudson-Odoi 58), Boly, Niakhate, Aina, Tavares (Montiel 38), Mangala, Sangare (Elanga 56), Dominguez, Gibbs-White, Awoniyi
Subs: Vlachodimos, Worrall, Kouyate, Wood, Hudson-Odoi, Yates, Origi
Talk about the F factor!
Phil Foden has made a magnificent start to the season and today saw the City Academy graduate at his impish, inspirational best.
Deployed as an effective inside right, Foden was at the heart of all that was good about City with his hunger, work rate allied to his technique and talent a joy to behold in a sparking first 45 minutes.
A brilliant instinctive finish for City’s opener and his first goal of the season was then swiftly followed by a wonder ball that allowed Matheus Nunes the time and space to pick out Erling Haaland for City’s second goal.
He then ran his heart out after the break to close down time and space for Forest.
It was a brilliant all-round performance by a very special player.
There’s no place like home so they so – and that phrase resonates crystal clear with City.
Today’s victory was our 20th consecutive triumph here at the Etihad in all competitions, further extending a new club record that we established with victory over Newcastle earlier this season.
In winning 20 consecutive home games in all competitions, City have become just the fourth different top-flight side in England to do so after Manchester United in 2011 (20), Preston North End in 1892 (21) and Sunderland in 1892 (24).
Pre-match, Newcastle boss Steve Copper had described the prospect of bringing a side to the Etihad as the toughest task in world football right now.
Today’s result and the emphatic nature of the performance only added further credence to those words as City also recorded what was our 300th Premier League home win from 503 games.
City have long been established as the Premier League’s pass masters but even by our lofty standards there was something extra special about today’s opening goal.
There were an astonishing 46 passes in the build up to Foden’s opener against Forest.
That was the second longest passing sequence leading to a Premier League goal on record (since 2006-07), after Nacer Chadli’s strike for Spurs v QPR in August 2014 (48 passes).
Another quite stunning statistic to bank alongside the blizzard of eye-catching statistics notched up Guardiola’s storied reign.
What it means
City remain top of the Premier League with a perfect haul of 18 points from six games.
We boast the only 100 per cent record in the topflight and with Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal not playing until tomorrow the result means we extend our lead at the top of the table to five points.
No prizes of course at this stage of the season but that’s a wonderful way to have kick started the season.
"An exceptional game in the first half.
"Exceptional game in the second for our resilience and our work because we played, I would say, 51/52 minutes ten against eleven so it was not easy but we were fantastic.
"I thought the way we played in the first half was amazing so against a difficult side for the physicality the pace they have up front so yeah, recover for the next one."
PHIL FODEN'S reaction
"Delighted with the performance. I think the first half was brilliant apart from the last 10, I think they found us out a little.
"The second half was not what we expected because Rodri got a red card quite early.
"It wasn't ideal but we showed a different side to us today to dig in and yeah I'm proud of the team."
Attention switches to the Carabao Cup with City facing a tough looking third round trip to tackle Newcastle United.
The game at St James’ Park takes place on Wednesday, September 27 with kick-off in the North East slated for 20.00pm (UK).
That’s then followed by another road trip to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League next Saturday afternoon, with the game at Molineux getting underway at 15.00pm (UK).