Two first half goals give Bees win
Sergi Canós and Lasse Vibe scored during a commanding first half performance as Brentford completed a Sky Bet Championship double over Bristol City. The Bees were outstanding before the break and were well worth the lead they held at the break, which could have been more than two. The game was more even in the second period and City hit the post as they tried to mount a comeback. But Brentford were resolute in defence and never really looked like letting their lead slip as they took a 2-0 win.
It was a lead they worked hard for. Brentford swarmed all over their visitors in the first half. They dominated midfield areas and gave City’s attackers nothing to work with. And they were incisive going forward. Canós grabbed the first just before the 20-minute mark and Vibe added the second eight minutes later as Brentford took the points to go with a 1-0 victory in the reverse fixture.
The Bees could have been ahead inside three minutes as Canós almost finished off a swift, incisive move. Harlee Dean chipped a ball forward and Romaine Sawyers nodded in to the path of the Spanish winger, he let fly from the edge of the penalty area but the shot was beaten away superbly to his left by Frank Fielding. That was a sign of things to come from Brentford. They were able to play through City’s weak attempts to press and get their central defenders and Ryan Woods space to pick passes. Regular switches of play caught the visitors out and chances came.
City were also contributing to their own problems and Korey Smith, who was tormented by Canós, presented the ball to Vibe 20 yards out but Aden Flint blocked the shot. Dean had a sight of goal when the corner dropped loose but Callum O’Dowda made a fine tackle to stop the Brentford captain getting a shot off. Joe Bryan saw a shot blocked at the other end after good work by Lee Tomlin but his next involvement could have been his last. Bryan slid in with a nasty looking scissor challenge on Canós and was perhaps fortunate to escape with a yellow card from referee Simon Hooper.
Canós was able to hobble away from that and resume his role in the game, that of the leading man. The challenge from Bryan was not the only one in the opening exchanges that was of a firm nature from the visitors. Many were fair but many were not and it was one foul, another cynical one on Konstantin Kerschbaumer by Bailey Wright, that led to the opening goal. Yoann Barbet curled the resulting free kick in to a defensive wall but an out-of-shape City defence left Canós in yards of space, he was found by Woods and smashed low past Fielding to open the scoring.
It could have been two soon after when Canós met a cross at the far post and looped a header over. He had started the move with a raking pass to Jota and then met the cross from Woods after Kerschbaumer linked the play. Vibe then got on to a clever Sawyers pass and it took a great block from Flint to stop him setting up Kerschbaumer. That, however, only delayed the second goal. Jota delivered the resulting corner, Barbet headed back, Dean and Kerschbaumer fed it on and Vibe outjumped Fielding to head it in.
The goal summed up the opening quarter of the match. City were unable to deal with Brentford’s attacking play. They could not force errors when The Bees had the ball and were not competent enough to stop the home side in the final third. City offered nothing as an attacking threat with Woods completely taking Tomlin out of the game while Kerschbaumer and Sawyers ran the midfield and Canós cast his spells on the left. Sawyers could have made it three before the half hour when he was set up by Canós but he shot narrowly over.
City tried to respond and Flint could have reduced the deficit when he met a David Cotterill cross 12 yards out but he headed powerfully over. Barbet and Dean then combined to prevent a cross from O’Dowda reaching Tammy Abraham unmarked at the far post but those were rare bright moments from the visitors. Sawyers had a shot blocked for The Bees after a one-two with Woods and Canós had a shot saved soon after before a long ball forward set Abraham in to space in the inside left channel but he blasted wide.
Rico Henry had a shot blocked as half time approached and Fielding just beat Vibe to a clever Jota pass soon after. Fielding made a fine save in the dying seconds of the half as Vibe tried to wrong foot him after getting away from Flint but that only served to keep the game alive at the break. Brentford had been dominant in the first half and fully deserved their two-goal lead, which could have been three as Barbet had an effort ruled out. And it took some desperate City defending at the start of the second half to stop the third going in as Vibe got away from Flint and was then crowded out as he tried to get on to a Sawyers pass.
A deflected Vibe effort was saved after good work by Jota and Canós as Brentford continued to press. Fielding was then quickly out to beat Vibe to a Canós pass before Jota cut in off the right flank and shot just wide from the edge of the penalty area. City had offered very little at the start of the second period. When Brentford overplayed in defence and Bryan crossed a flicked effort from Abraham was saved by Daniel Bentley but most of the action was at the other end. City did, however, show their threat when Bryan delivered from the left and Abraham met the cross with a powerful header that cannoned off the post.
City were starting to come back in to the game while Brentford’s level had dropped a little, particularly after Canós was taken off. But Florian Jozefzoon, his replacement, almost made it three as he got on to a Henry pass and got away from Flint before letting fly with a shot that might have arrowed in to the far corner had Wright not blocked. Jozefzoon should have made the net bulge moments later when a cross from Josh Clarke found him unmarked five yards out but he fired wide and was relieved to see the offside flag up. Clarke then came close to a goal himself after a long one-two with Jota but the low effort was saved.
City had the upper hand as the minutes ticked down. Time was running out for them to mount a comeback and they introduced attacking players as they chased the game. Tomlin hit the wall with a free kick before Smith set up Bobby Reid, he turned and fired a shot against the near post from a narrow angle. Matty Taylor missed the best chance as Abraham got away in midfield and set him up 15 yards out but he dragged a shot wide with only Bentley to beat.
Brentford tried to stem the flow in midfield by introducing Nico Yennaris. He replaced Kerschbaumer in midfield and gave The Bees some extra legs as the starting players began to tire. Flint headed over when well-placed but there were few late chances for the visitors as the game headed to a close. City continued to play on the front foot but had little to worry The Bees and headed back to the West Country with nothing to show for their efforts.
Brentford: Bentley; Colin (sub Clarke 63 mins), Dean, Barbet, Henry; Woods; Jota, Kerschbaumer (sub Yennaris 83 mins), Sawyers, Canós (sub Jozefzoon 54 mins); Vibe
Subs (not used): Bonham, Egan, McCormack, Shaibu
Bristol City: Fielding; Smith, Flint, Wright, Bryan; Cotterill (sub Taylor 62 mins), Pack (sub Reid 62 mins), O’Neil (sub Hegeler 69 mins), O’Dowda; Tomlin; Abraham
Subs (not used): Geifer, Brownhill, Wilbraham, Magnússon
Bookings: Bryan (12 mins), O’Neil (35 mins)
Attendance: 11,360 (1,660 away fans)