Saïd Benrahma took his tally to six goals in three games and seven days as Brentford beat Derby County at Pride Park for the first time ever. Two draws have been all The Bees have gathered from six previous visits, but they fully deserved the 3-1 win they secured on their seventh visit. The win was Brentford’s seventh in a row, and they climbed back in to the top three of the Sky Bet Championship with three games to go.
Ollie Watkins scored early on as Brentford started brightly but they were pegged back as Derby responded. But Benrahma took over after the break and added two more goals to a hat-trick he scored against Wigan Athletic last Saturday and the one he notched against Charlton Athletic on Tuesday. There was an element of luck about his first goal, as Derby goalkeeper Ben Hamer should have saved it. But his second, Brentford’s third, was unstoppable. It would have graced any pitch anywhere in the world and settled the game in Brentford’s favour.
Brentford started the game very brightly and had put together spells of attacking possession before they took the lead three minutes in. There was an exchange of passes between Josh Dasilva and Benrahma before the former picked a delightful pass for Bryan Mbeumo inside the penalty area. The low shot beat Hamer but cannoned against the far post. It did, however, fall perfectly for Watkins to poke in from close range.
The Bees were in control in the opening exchanges. Dasilva and Benrahma linked with Rico Henry on the left side of the pitch and Derby were stretched. The home side couldn’t play their way through and kept giving the ball back to Brentford. It could have been two when Dasilva found Henry on the overlap, his cross found Mbeumo at the far post and the shot, going back the way it came, was arrowing in to the top corner before Matt Clarke got his head in the way.
If the second goal had come, the first half could have been different, but with only one goal to chase, Derby came back in to the contest. Wayne Rooney, looking every inch a man with more than 100 international caps and more than 50 England goals, was able to find space to be a pivot for his side and they were able to get themselves up the pitch. Chris Martin and Jordan Sibley roamed from their attacking positions and Derby started to create chances.
Max Bird fired over from distance when a corner was half cleared and David Raya pushed a fierce shot from Martin up in the air before gathering it under pressure as it dropped. The next time Martin got in to a similar position, he started the move that ended with an equaliser. Martin got a lucky ricochet against Christian Nørgaard in midfield and found Rooney in space. The first shot was blocked but Derby maintained possession and Rooney found space in the penalty area, his pass released Jason Knight and the wide man fired past Raya to level it up.
Derby continued to hold the upper hand for a period after they levelled and Sibley lashed over at the near post after a break, but The Bees regained the initiative as half time approached. Nørgaard, Marcondes and Dasilva got closer together in midfield and prevented Derby getting as much of the ball as they had before. And The Bees began to create openings in the dying minutes of the half.
Benrahma hit a defensive wall with a free kick and Rooney then made a superb block when Dasilva picked up a loose Derby pass and let fly from 20 yards. The ball was travelling and may have needed a saving but Rooney threw his body in the way to prevent Hamer having to work. Hamer then saved a curling shot from Benrahma but Derby’s solid defensive shape and Brentford being unable to pick the right pass at the right pace at the right time meant the game was level at the break.
It was not, however, level for long after the break. The Bees started the second half as brightly as they started the first, but it took the helping hand of Hamer to get them back in front. The Bees moved quickly up the pitch and Emiliano Marcondes found Benrahma on the left, he cut inside and let fly with a low shot that had power but seemed to be comfortable for Hamer. Inexplicably, it bounced under the goalkeeper and rolled over the line. Benrahma and Brentford celebrated as Hamer kicked his post in disgust, knowing he handed the visitors the initiative.
There was some defending to do for Brentford just after the goal, a series of corners that were expertly defended, mostly by Ethan Pinnock and Pontus Jansson, but The Bees had the upper hand. Hamer was also clearly shaken, and he spilt a shot from Dasilva just wide of his post. Benrahma, a growing influence, hit a defensive wall with a free kick and Nørgaard pulled a shot just wide after more good work by Dasilva.
Brentford had control and the moment of the match, also the one that sealed the win, came just past the hour. Marcondes spread play to the left and Benrahma faced up two defenders, as he had done throughout the afternoon. He teased them, cut inside the pair of them and then bent a shot out of the reach of Hamer and in to the top corner from 25 yards. It was unstoppable and unbelievable, Hamer grasped thin air and The Bees had breathing space.
Derby tried to respond but Brentford had a solid defensive shape and the belief that a two-goal lead gives a team. Sibley volleyed over when a free kick dropped in the penalty area and Raya had to save from Knight after good work by Rooney and Martin. But Derby were wasting energy chasing the ball and were not able to use it when they could get it.
Mbeumo shot over at the other end for The Bees after Watkins and Benrahma had made the space and both teams had claims for penalties in the later stages. Watkins was eased out by George Evans as he looked to pull the trigger after being played in by Benrahma and at the other end Tom Lawrence lost out in an aerial battle with Henry after a shot from substitute Florian Jozefzoon had looped up. Referee Tim Robinson did not feel either were spot kicks.
Watkins was just unable to reach a Benrahma cross as time ticked down and Hamer saved a low shot from Tariqe Fosu in the dying stages. But even in the last seconds, Brentford pushed men forward looking for more goals. Watkins and Joel Valencia were just unable to finish off a break and it ended with Jan Žambůrek seeing a shot blocked. Valencia also lashed over and a Watkins shot took a deflection and hit the side netting. A fourth goal would have added a gloss to the score, but Brentford did not need it to take another three points and continue their great run.
Derby County: Hamer; Bogle, Clarke, Evans, Lowe; Rooney, Bird (sub Forsyth 81 mins); Knight (sub Jozefzoon 81 mins), Sibley (sub Whittaker 81 mins), Lawrence; Martin
Subs (not used): Roos, Shinnie, Davies, Buchanan, Brown, Hector-Ingram
Bookings: Knight (62 mins)
Brentford: Raya; Roerslev, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry (sub Thompson 90 mins); Marcondes, Nørgaard (sub Jensen 69 mins), Dasilva (sub Žambůrek 69 mins); Mbeumo (sub Valencia 81 mins), Watkins, Benrahma (sub Fosu 81 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Dalsgaard, Canós, Dervişoğlu