Your Brentford v Aston Villa match report powered by Utilita
Lasse Vibe grabbed the winner again as Brentford picked up their second win in two Christmas games. The Danish striker fired in both as Brentford won at Norwich City on Friday night and his second half goal gave The Bees a 2-1 win over Aston Villa on a wet and wild Boxing Day evening at Griffin Park. Brentford had a first half lead, given to them by Romaine Sawyers, pegged back by Villa but Vibe’s winner got them the points.
And it was a win The Bees deserved. The home side had the better chances throughout and while big-spending Villa had spells in which they could have scored, a well-drilled Brentford defence held firm. Brentford dominated the midfield and had the main attacking threats and when Villa did break through, Daniel Bentley ensured they did not get a share of the spoils.
The visitors started on the front foot. They had a lot of the ball in the opening exchanges and it was largely in Brentford territory. Scott Hogan tried to weave his way through for Villa but found his path blocked by an excellent tackle from Chris Mepham. A Robert Snodgrass free kick was also blocked, this time by a defensive wall, as Villa tried to turn early pressure in to a goal.
Their momentum was halted by an injury to Albert Adomah and although he struggled on for a few minutes, he did not make it to the midway point of the first half before limping off. The delay and the reshuffle, with Josh Onomah coming on, slowed Villa down and Brentford began to get on the ball. With Josh McEachran as the midfield fulcrum, they started playing in Villa territory. They looked to link up with Sergi Canós on the left, as well as Sawyers and Ryan Woods in advanced midfield roles, and create chances.
Sam Johnstone made a superb stop low to his left from a curling Canós effort after the Spanish attacker had capitalised on an Alan Hutton error. A quick break, started by a Yoann Barbet tackle, then led to Canós wriggling free in the box and Vibe seeing a shot blocked. The goal Brentford had been threatening came soon after. Brentford kept the ball in the inside left channel and created space, Woods fed Sawyers and he arrowed a shot in to the bottom corner from 20 yards. Johnstone was beaten by the placement of the shot and The Bees had the lead.
But Villa responded well and were level inside eight minutes. Brentford failed to clear in the inside left channel a clever reverse pass from Snodgrass found Hogan, he stood up a cross to the far post where Onomah arrived late to rise and head home. Hogan had the ball in the net himself soon after, following fine interplay with Jack Grealish, but was offside when he put it in and Villa spent much of the rest of the half on the back foot.
Woods and McEachran started to dictate play again and while Brentford found the Villa backline a tough nut to crack, there were chances. A Barbet shot flicked off Hutton and Johnstone had to scramble low to save it before Vibe saw a shot blocked. Canós had a pair of efforts also stopped by defenders and when Johnstone failed to gather a McEachran free kick in the treacherous conditions, Barbet could not force the ball in.
The closest Villa came to a half time lead was when Mepham under hit a back pass and Bentley had to rush out to tackle Grealish on the edge of the penalty area. Luckily for Brentford, Woods and McEachran were able to mop up and ensure The Bees were level at the break. And that proved to be even more vital as they went ahead again early in the second half. Villa failed to deal with a McEachran corner as Andreas Bjelland challenged and when the ball dropped loose, Vibe spun and smashed the ball home.
The goal was a result of Vibe’s predatory instincts and was reward for Brentford’s fine start to the second half. They could have been ahead seconds after the restart when Canós won the ball and raced towards goal, his shot was blocked and looped up but James Chester, who made the initial block, got back to flick the ball behind for a corner with his goalkeeper stranded. Canós looked for a moment as if he might win the race for that ball but Chester beat him to it. Sawyers blasted high and wide when a cross was half cleared but eight minutes in to the second half Vibe scored and Brentford had the lead again.
There was some sublime football from the hosts following that goal. Sawyers, McEachran and Woods dominated the game with Canós and Florian Jozefzoon providing the threat out wide. Johnstone saved from Canós as Brentford tried to give themselves a two-goal cushion and he went close again soon after. Barbet won the ball in Villa territory and Canós cut in off the let before letting fly with a shot that deflected past Johnstone and hit the top of the crossbar. Canós had another shot blocked as Brentford piled on the pressure.
The Bees appeared to have complete control but Villa almost levelled on the break. Grealish, who became more and more influential as the evening wore on, fizzed a ball across the face of goal that whistled just past the far post and only needed a touch. Snodgrass then hit the defensive wall with a free kick before Grealish fed an overlapping Neil Taylor and his cross was just a fraction high for Keinan Davis to head in.
Davis had been introduced midway through the second half as Villa moved to two up front. That gave them more attacking threat but handed Brentford control of the midfield. The game became more and more stretched as Villa hunted an equaliser while Brentford looked for the third goal that would give them some comfort. There was an inexplicable moment when Vibe robbed Tommy Elphick and was then pulled back as he appeared to be through on goal. Referee Keith Stroud played an advantage that wasn’t really there and Canós saw a shot blocked. When Mr Stroud then booked Elphick it compounded the confusion.
Johnstone saved from Canós and Vibe shot wide after a nice turn. The Bees then broke quickly and Canós fed a ball across to Sawyers, he found Vibe but the shot was blocked. As the minutes took down, Villa went more direct – playing long to the powerful Davis – and the game became a battle in the rain. Bjelland and Mepham both had facial injuries seen to and Brentford defenced for a few minutes without the latter as Villa pushed.
The visitors threw the forward in the dying seconds as they sought an equaliser. Nico Yennaris made a superb back post block when Davis looked like he might head in an Ahmed Elmohamady cross. Moments later a Snodgrass cross dropped loose and Davis let fly with a shot that Bentley got a fingertip to and kept his side ahead. The resulting corner dropped loose and Kamohelo Mokotjo and Bentley combined to keep it out as Chester and Davis tried to force it in. Mr Stroud ran away pointing to his watch to signal that the ball had not crossed the line as the goal-line technology had not activated.
That ensured Brentford got the points and The Bees saw out the law few minutes comfortably. Canós toyed with them in the corner, winning a series of corners and Yennaris almost headed one in but missed the target. Sawyers almost converted it at the far post but couldn’t. It did not, however, prevent Brentford taking the win.
Brentford: Bentley; Yennaris, Mepham, Bjelland, Barbet; McEachran (sub Mokotjo 69 mins); Jozefzoon, Woods, Sawyers, Canós; Vibe (sub Maupay 82 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Sørensen, Chatzitheodoridis, Judge, Macleod
Bookings: McEachran (37 mins) (second of season), Barbet (41 mins) (fourth of season)
Aston Villa: Johnstone; Hutton, Elphick (sub Elmohamady 85 mins), Chester, Taylor; Snodgrass, Whelan (sub Davis 68 mins), Jedinak, Adomah (sub Onomah 18 mins); Grealish; Hogan
Subs (not used): Steer, De Laet, Hourihane, Bjarnason
Bookings: Elphick (69 mins)
Attendance: 11,341 (1,618 away fans)