Brentford came from behind twice to draw a pre-season friendly against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Shandon Baptiste scored Brentford’s first goal after United had taken a deserved early lead. The home side scored the third goal of the game, but Bryan Mbeumo came off the substitute’s bench to grab the fourth and final goal of the evening.
It was a well-contested game, that was lit up with four superb goals. The hosts had the better of the first half, particularly the opening exchanges, but Brentford responded well. They were well worth their second equaliser and probably did enough overall to claim a draw.
The home side took control of the early stages. Nemanja Matić and Andreas Pereira in the centre of midfield dictated the pace of play and provided enough defensive cover to allow full backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams to push forward. David Raya had to make an early save from a Jesse Lingard effort and most of the opening exchanges were played in Brentford territory.
Sergi Canós made an important defensive intervention to prevent Wan-Bissaka heading home at the far post and Ethan Pinnock blocked a Lingard shot. Raya was forced to save again after a loose pass from Vitaly Janelt enabled Lingard and Juan Mata to set up Mason Greenwood. The home side were dictating the tempo of the game and a goal was coming.
United eventually took the lead 12 minutes in. Anthony Elanga found a fraction of space in the penalty area to meet a Wan-Bissaka cross on the volley. He swivelled and shot in one motion and the ball fizzed past Raya and in to the net. Raya had no chance as the ball whistled in to the net and the home side had a deserved lead.
But that lead did not last that long. The hosts gave away a needless corner with a loose pass and failed to clear the cross from Canós after it was played short. Ivan Toney won the aerial challenge and Baptiste stepped on to the bouncing ball to lash a shot past Tom Heaton and in off the underside of the crossbar.
A damp Manchester evening had been lit up by two superb goals, Baptiste’s even better than the one it followed, and the game was all square 20 minutes in, even if it probably shouldn’t have been. United almost went back in front immediately. A Mata free kick was cleared by Charlie Goode but only as far as Greenwood. The shot whistled back towards the net, but Dominic Thompson made a vital block.
The second half of the first period was more even than the opening exchanges. The home probably still had the better of the contest but created fewer chances and failed to test Raya. Williams shot over the bar and a Lingard effort deflected wide.
The Bees also had chances of their own. United failed to properly deal with a Canós free kick and Haygarth tried to get on to the loose ball. He was crowded out and a Pinnock shot was blocked. Brentford went closer still towards the end of the half when Baptiste released Tariqe Fosu on the right, his ball fizzed across a wet surface and just eluded Toney, arriving unmarked.
The game was level at the break but not for long after the restart as the trend of each goal being better than the one before it continued. United broke and Lingard found space on the left, he cut inside and tested Raya with a low shot. The ball bounced up and Pinnock headed it away. That, however, only set up Pereira, who stepped on to the dropping ball and volleyed it powerfully back the way it back. The ball flew past Raya, smashed the underside of the crossbar and bounced in to the net. It was another wonderful goal in a game full of them and restored United’s lead.
Brentford probably had the upper hand at the start of the second half, despite conceding. Janelt and Baptiste saw more of the ball and The Bees were a little further forward out of possession, which made it tougher for United to play out. Brentford could have scored at the start of the half when Fosu won possession and released Toney in the inside right channel. Toney drilled a ball across and Canós was unable to convert it. The cross was just a bit too high and firm, otherwise Canós was heading in from close range.
There were fewer chances in the second half than the first and it was a more even contest. Brentford arguably, were better in possession than their hosts, moving the ball up the pitch quickly when they could and generally efficiently. They almost handed United a third goal when Raya and Mads Bech Sørensen played themselves in to trouble. Raya passed it straight to Lingard, but he could only shoot over from the inside right channel.
Canós had a shot saved before Mbeumo levelled it with 12 minutes remaining. Fin Stevens played a ball down the right and Mbeumo skipped away from Diogo Dalot. The attacker cut in off the right and bent a shot with his left foot out of the reach of Heaton and in to the far corner.
That goal came just after a full suite of substitutions and by the time the game came to a close, Brentford had changed all ten outfield players while United had used seven from their bench. The game ended with Brentford in control, stroking the ball around on a slick surface and looking like the team most likely to win the game. Mbeumo lined up a free kick from the edge of the penalty area but saw it deflect wide and the game finished level.
Manchester United: Heaton; Wan-Bissaka, Mengi, Tuanzebe, Williams (sub Dalot h/t); Matić (sub Van de Beek 75 mins), Pereira (sub Garner 61 mins); Greenwood (sub Hannibal 75 mins), Mata (sub Pellestri 61 mins), Lingard (sub Shoretire 75 mins); Elanga (sub James 61 mins)
Brentford: Raya; Roerslev (sub Stevens 75 mins), Goode (sub Racic 75 mins), Pinnock (sub Sørensen 61 mins), Thompson (sub Gordon 75 mins); Baptiste (sub Peart-Harris 75 mins), Janelt (sub Valencia 75 mins); Fosu (sub Mbeumo 61 mins), Haygarth (sub Onyeka 61 mins), Canós (sub Dervişoğlu 75 mins); Toney (sub Forss 75 mins)