Brentford came from behind twice to secure a point in a remarkable 3-3 draw against Liverpool. The Bees scored first through Ethan Pinnock just before the half hour and the teams exchanged goals for another 60 minutes. The game was level at 1-1 at half time and Liverpool took the lead twice in the second period, but The Bees battled back. Vitaly Janelt and then Yoane Wissa scored to give Brentford a share of the spoils.
It was a thrilling game played on a mild West London autumn evening. The teams went toe-to-toe throughout, both looking to get a two-goal cushion to kill the other off. When Curtis Jones smashed in after Janelt had equalised, that might have been that, but Brentford refused to be beaten. Wissa came off the substitute’s bench to score the sixth and final goal of the evening and ensure the spoils were shared.
Even the six goals only tell a fraction of the tale. David Raya made some fine saves and Alisson was almost as busy at the other end. Ivan Toney had a goal rule out, one that would have put Brentford 4-3 up, and both sides had efforts cleared off the line. It was probably right that it finished level as neither team deserved to lose.
The game started at a thrilling, chaotic pace. The visitors went on the attack from the first whistle, but Brentford looked to give as good as they got. Liverpool had more of the ball in the opening exchanges but both teams had good chances, with Brentford happy to play more direct, looking to get in behind the visitors, and there could have been three or four goals in the first ten minutes.
Liverpool had the first chances with a clever pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold releasing Andrew Robertson in the inside left channel. His ball flew across the face of goal with no-one there to tap it in. Kristoffer Ajer then made an important aerial challenge to stop Jones getting on to a Jordan Henderson ball and the Brentford defender was in the action again soon after.
Jones made the most of a lucky bounce in midfield, getting away from Christian Nørgaard and Janelt. He was able to thread a ball through to Mohamed Salah, who only had Raya to beat. Salah rolled the ball past Raya, but Ajer was able to chase back and complete a remarkable clearance on the line. Sadio Mané was unable to convert from a tight angle.
It had been a difficult few minutes for The Bees but they refused to be overawed. Liverpool’s attacks came with Brentford looking to push forward and The Bees were able to create chances when they got the ball in attacking areas. A Raya kick was flicked on by Pinnock and after an exchange of passes, Bryan Mbeumo crossed for Toney to divert a header wide of the far post. When Toney won an aerial battle soon after, Mbeumo got in to the penalty are and the ball ricochet to Frank Onyeka, but he shot over from 15 yards on the swivel.
Brentford thought they had gone ahead 11 minutes in when Toney’s ball released Mbeumo in the inside left channel, the shot went past Alisson, but this time it was Joël Matip getting back to clear off the line. Toney got to the loose ball and turned inside the penalty area, but his shot was blocked. Mbeumo went through again soon after but was denied by Alisson and then saw Assistant Referee Dan Cook had his flag raised for an offside.
A helter-skelter opening gave way to an even contest. Brentford looked to get strikers Toney and Mbeumo in to the game as much as they could, happy to play longer if they could not progress up the pitch through midfield. There was thrust and counter-thrust with attack and counter-attack as both teams went for it, but when the opening goal came, it was from a set piece.
Janelt played a free kick in to Nørgaard and his reverse pass put Sergi Canós in on the right side, the cross was flicked by Toney and Pinnock was there at the far post to poke it in. The Bees had opened Liverpool up from a dead ball and had the lead. Unfortunately, Pinnock was injured in an aerial duel soon after and the lead lasted only four minutes.
Liverpool’s goal came from a move on Brentford’s left, with Pinnock hampered a little on that side of the home defence. Space was worked for Henderson to deliver a cross, and Diogo Jota rose in the middle to power a header low to Raya’s right and in to the net. Liverpool created an opening on their right and made Brentford pay.
That equaliser came just past the half hour and the 15 minutes before half time, that became almost 20 with Pinnock having to be withdrawn and replaced by Zanka, was a little calmer. There were still chances at both end and one moment of brilliance from Raya to keep it level at the break. But the game was, in general, played at a slightly lower tempo.
Toney almost got to a Mbeumo lay-off of a Janelt pass but was beaten to it by Alisson and an Alexander-Arnold shot was blocked at the other end. Onyeka headed over the bar and Alexander-Arnold missed the target with a free kick, but the key moment late in the half involved Raya. The ball was set for Jones to fire in a shot that took a deflection off Pontus Jansson and cannoned off the post. Raya had gone full stretch and may have got a touch but reacted instantly to get a palm to the follow-up shot from Jota and, somehow, keep it out.
That meant the game was level at the break, but Liverpool had the lead ten minutes in to the second half. A Fabinho ball over the top was volleyed home by Salah in the inside right channel. Raya got a hand to it but could not keep it out. Mr Cook raised his flag and it looked like the goal would be ruled out, but Video Assistant Referee Paul Tierney studied the footage and noted the Salah was onside, awarding the goal.
The goal came a little out of nothing. The start of the second half had been even, with Liverpool having a little more of the ball but Brentford on the front foot and trying to get forward. Rico Henry sliced an attempted effort from a half cleared corner and Brentford then had to scramble clear as Liverpool broke away. Raya then made a save when Jota diverted a Robertson cross towards the bottom corner, the Brentford goalkeeper getting down well to his right.
After the Salah goal, Alexander-Arnold had a shot blocked and Robertson blasted wide, but Brentford also responded. Toney faded a shot wide of the far post after exchanging passes with Janelt and within ten minutes of falling behind, Brentford were level. It came initially from the right side with Ajer and Canós creating space. The cross came in from Canós and Mbeumo rose at the far post, his header was blocked but dropped to Jansson, who smashed a shot against the underneath of the crossbar. It bounced down and Janelt, at the second attempt, managed to head it over the line, despite the efforts of Jones to keep it out.
Liverpool could have restored their lead when Mané got on to an Alexander-Arnold cross and fed Jones, but he blasted over the bar. That was, however, just a sighter for him. Within seconds, space was created on the left, Jones tracked inside and let fly with a shot from 22 yards that took a deflection and ripped past Raya and in to the net. The deflection probably made the difference for Jones, but the power would have tested Raya anyway.
Liverpool immediately removed Jones, bringing Roberto Firmino on to add to their attacking options. Brentford responded by introducing Wissa, as they looked to find another equaliser. The game was opening up with both teams looking to attack and Liverpool should have sealed the win inside the final 15 minutes. Mané cut in off the left and fed the ball through to Salah, with only Raya to beat. The Liverpool striker lifted the ball over Raya but could not get it down in time and watched as it landed on the roof of the net.
That proved to be another critical moment as Brentford’s equaliser came just minutes later. Once again, The Bees exploited room on their right to work a crossing opportunity. Shandon Baptiste delivered it and Toney and Wissa battled for it at the far post. Wissa reacted quickest as it dropped, lifting it over Alisson and in to the net to make it 3-3.
But even that was not the end of it. A corner inside the final five minutes was half cleared and Zanka headed it back, Toney took a touch and drilled it across Alisson and in to the net, only to see another offside flag up. Toney looked to be clear in stoppage time before Virgil van Dijk made a recovery tackle and Raya made a fine low stop from Firmino at the death. That would have been cruel on Brentford, who did enough to earn a point against the team that started the day joint-top of the Premier League.
Brentford: Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock (sub Zanka 43 mins); Canós, Onyeka (sub Baptiste 68 mins), Nørgaard (sub Wissa 78 mins), Janelt, Henry; Toney, Mbeumo
Subs (not used): Fernandez, Roerslev, Bidstrup, Jensen, Forss, Ghoddos
Bookings: Onyeka (44 mins)
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Jones (sub Firmino 67 mins); Salah, Jota, Mané
Subs (not used): Kelleher, Konaté, Milner, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino, Tsimakis, Origi
Bookings: Robertson (70 mins)
Attendance: 16,876 (1,700 away fans)