Brentford 3, Liverpool 1

Second season: onward and upward

What a game, what a result, what an occasion! Don’t be complacent – by the time you read this, Fulham and Brighton will have played catch-up games that if won would see them leapfrog the Bees. In the meantime, seventh place in the Premier League table is the stuff dreams are made off throughout Bus Stops in Hounslow.

Brentford’s run of form began just before the World Cup hiatus when Ivan Toney scored twice for a 2-1 win at Premier League champions Manchester City. Soundly beating Liverpool at the Gtech Stadium can be considered every bit a fine achievement, especially as this time out they were without Toney, nursing a leg injury suffered at West Ham that relegated him to a seat in the stand.

Many of those also watching were fearful of a good hiding from visitors who, after a slow start to the season, had themselves found form. Victory here would see them climb higher into the prized top six and for the first ten minutes they looked very likely to do so.

Uruguay international Darwin Núnez burst through until blocked by Zanka and then evaded keeper David Raya, only to be halted by Ben Mee. Mohamed Salah busied himself and supplied a pass that bamboozled the home defence but ended up travelling across the face of the goal. To those of little faith, a goal looked inevitable.

But when it came, it was at the other end, where Bryan Mbeumo and Wissa – deputising for Toney – had begun to lead Liverpool a dance that was far from merry for the visitors. After 19 minutes Mbeumo raced away from a hesitant defence to test Alisson with a shot that the keeper turned round a post. Mbeumo’s corner kick caused havoc until the ball bounce wickedly into the net via the knee of defender Ibrahima Konaté.

With the VAR having decreed that no offside had been committed, the pendulum swung Brentford’s way and Mbeumo became a permanent pest, providing corners that Wissa twice converted before each being judged offside.

Images above: Roerslev, Peter Gilham is interviewed 

But it was third time lucky for him when his header from Matthias Jensen’s cross was scooped away by an airborne Alisson –  but not before it had crossed his goal-line, said VAR.

With Jordan Henderson unavailable through injury – very much noticeable the longer the game progressed – manager Jurgen Klopp fielded three substitutes after a presumably role-up-your-socks interval speech and a new-shape side presented the Bees with more problems. Five minutes in, Núnez lobbed Raya and it was Liverpool’s turn to be bitten by VAR and an offside verdict. But almost immediately the side’s double-hyphen pair combined – Trent Alexander Arnold with the cross, Alex Oxslade-Chamberlain with a headed finish – to provide Liverpool with a glimpse of returning home with a point or three.

An uncomfortable feeling of Spurs-itis, when Tottenham bounced back from a 0-2 deficit to win a point, began to spread among the Bees supporters as Liverpool pressure mounted. Then with six minutes of normal time left, Mbeumo latched on to a beautifully flighted ball from Christian Nørgaard and raced with Konaté and and an advancing Alisson before a brush – literally – with Konaté saw him drop out of the race and Mbeumo pass Alisson with a goal-bound shot.

Job done, but a cluster of Liverpool players descended on referee Stuart Attwell in an effort to obtain a free kick. In the visitors’ dugout coach Klopp, who had spent time dealing with his mounting frustrations slapping his own head with his right hand, was equally miffed when Mr Attwell refused. The Sky TV coverage of the match soon proved the referee right.

Images above: Alisson attempts a save, fans and players celebrate

And so the afternoon finished with the players and Thomas Frank walking their familiar lap of honour while the deliriously elated fans sung and danced until the last of the players disappeared into the dressing rooms tunnel.

Ivan Toney, who had appeared to be the target of several Raya goal kicks, as if he was too difficult a habit to break, left his seat to congratulate the side, with a special warm hug for Mbeumo, his front-line partner on many afternoons, some good, some so-so, but none so dramatic as this.

We can’t blame Klopp for being upset,’ I said to my mate Charlie, and at least he later admitted Brentford deserved to win ‘of course’.

‘Quite,’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Raya; Zanka, Pinnock; Mee; Roerslev, Janelt (substitute Ghoddos, 87 mins), Nørgaard, Jensen (Dasilva, 74), Henry, B Sørensen, 90); Mbeumo (Canós, 88), Wissa (Lewis-Potter, 74).

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk (Matip, 45), Tsimikas (Robertson, 45); Elliott (Keita, 45), Fabinho, Thiago Alcántara; Salah, Núnez, Oxslade-Chamberlain (Jones, 83)

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor of the Bees United supporters’ group. Pictures by Will Hagerty

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