Vitaly Janelt netted a late equaliser to give Brentford a deserved share of the spoils at home to Everton this afternoon.
In truth, Thomas Frank’s side deserved all three points, having hit the woodwork on three occasions, but it looked for long periods like they would leave with nothing following Anthony Gordon’s first-half strike.
However, as a first home defeat of the campaign loomed, Janelt found himself all alone at the back post to turn home Keane Lewis-Potter’s flick on and salvage a point.
Frank was without Pontus Jansson due to a minor foot injury, meaning Zanka came in alongside Ben Mee for his first Premier League start of the campaign. Frank Lampard made two changes from their draw against Nottingham Forest; Amadou Onana and Dwight McNeil replacing Tom Davies and Salomón Rondón.
The away side saw more of the ball, and the territory, in the opening exchanges but it was Brentford who created the early chances. A driving run from Josh Dasilva down the right touchline opened space for Aaron Hickey on the underlap. The full-back took a touch inside the box but saw his shot blocked behind for a corner.
The next chance came courtesy of the advancing full-back on the other flank. Rico Henry collected Mee’s ball over the top and found Bryan Mbeumo with a low ball across the edge of the box. Mbeumo's first-time effort then skipped inches wide of Jordan Pickford’s right-hand post.
With McNeil and Gordon drifting in off their flanks to support Demarai Gray, Everton were able to create room for spare men in the middle of the park. On one of those occasions, Alex Iwobi tested David Raya with a long-range effort. Shortly after Gordon had a shot blocked at close range by Henry.
Another period of Everton pressure almost brought about a Brentford opener. Mee’s powerful headed clearance was picked up by Dasilva. Dasilva led the break over halfway before finding Ivan Toney charging through the middle. His heavy touch allowed Nathan Patterson to get a challenge in and the Scottish defender was in the right place again moments later as Mbeumo tried to play the ball through for Ivan again.
A minute later and the woodwork was tested for the first time on the afternoon. Mason Holgate only cleared Mbeumo’s cross as far as Mathias Jensen on the edge of the box. Jensen drilled a low, left-footed shot through a crowd of bodies, it beat Pickford but came straight back off the base of the post.
Everton went straight on the break, but Gordon couldn’t beat Raya with a curling effort from 15 yards. However, there was nothing Raya could do the next time Gordon threatened as the Everton man latched on to Conor Coady’s ball through and steered home from 12 yards.
With an advantage now, Everton’s wing-backs dropped into a back five with Iwobi and Onana frustrating in midfield too. Despite the men behind the ball, Brentford continued to create good openings.
From Henry’s cross, Toney rose highest and sent the ball back towards where it came from only to see it bounce back off the post. Wissa met the loose ball first but fired over the bar with only Pickford to beat. The impressive James Tarkowski was the next to come to Everton’s rescue, getting a vital touch on Mbeumo’s shot to take it spinning just past the far post.
The final action of the half saw Iwobi threaten from range, but Mee made a brave block to ensure the deficit was just one at the interval.
The second half followed the same pattern to the latter stages of the first with Brentford camped in Everton’s half but Pickford well protected by those in blue in front of him.
Dasilva had the half’s first sight of goal, latching on to Jensen’s through ball, but the massed ranks of the Everton defence managed to smuggle the ball away from inside the six-yard box. Captain for the day, Christian Norgaard was then the third Brentford player denied by the frame of the goal as his hooked effort from a long-throw hit the underside of the bar. Even then the luck was against Brentford as the ball bounced off Pickford but somehow didn’t find its way over the line.
Everton had offered nothing as an attacking threat up to his point but did carve one clear opportunity to double their advantage on the break. Substitute Tom Davies saw his shot from the edge of the box parried by Raya but McNeil on the follow-up was denied by an even better stop at close-range.
That was a rare foray forward for Everton who continued to defend resolutely. Norgaard’s low cross-shot was cleared before Toney could turn home and Mbeumo curled just off target from the edge of the D.
Thomas made a triple change with 25 minutes left to play, bringing on Lewis-Potter, Janelt and Shandon Baptiste. That change almost paid instant dividends as Lewis-Potter nodded Henry’s cross back across goal for Janelt. The German midfielder got his header on target, but Pickford plunged to beat clear, before Toney couldn’t sort his feet out quickly enough to divert the rebound home.
There was a Premier League debut for Mikkel Damsgaard with 12 minutes to play as Thomas employed all the attacking resources on his bench.
Everton were holding on and Pickford eventually picked up a booking for time-wasting with nine minutes to play, shortly after he’d made a routine save from Dasilva’s downward header.
Three minutes later, Brentford got the goal they had so thoroughly deserved. Jensen, who had been at the heart of everything in the midfield, swung in a corner which Lewis-Potter glanced on. The ball landed perfectly for Janelt who had the freedom of the six-yard box to turn home.
Those in red and white sensed there was time to grab all three points and continued to pile the pressure on. However, aside from a Dasilva cross which Pickford came out to punch clear, Everton were able to see out the six minutes of normal time, and five minutes of added time, to escape with a point.
Brentford: Raya; Hickey (Booked 90+5), Zanka (Baptiste 68), Mee, Henry; Nørgaard (Janelt 69), Jensen, Dasilva (Bech 90+2); Mbeumo (Damsgaard 78), Wissa (Booked 55) (Lewis-Potter 68), Toney
Subs not used: Strakosha, Ghoddos, Onyeka, Roerslev
Everton: Pickford (Booked 81); Holgate (Keane 68), Coady, Tarkowski; Patterson, Iwobi, Onana (Davies 78), Mykolenko (Vinagre 86); Gordon (Booked 90+3), McNeil (Rondón 86), Gray
Subs not used: Begovic, Allan, Coleman, Warrington, Mills