Brentford were beaten by Swansea City for the third time in five months, losing 3-0 at The Liberty Stadium. The Bees had lost the reverse Sky Bet Championship fixture at Griffin Park after conceding inside the first minute and did so again as a league defeat was added to an Emirates FA Cup loss in South Wales. Nathan Dyer scored that goal and added another later in the first half before Daniel James grabbed a third late on.
And there was little doubt that the home side deserved the win. The early goal enabled them to get the upper hand before any pattern had been established and they dominated the first half, taking a 2-0 lead in to the break, which as the least they deserved. The game was more even after the interval, but Swansea still had the better chances and James killed Brentford off late on.
The game could not have started in a worse fashion for The Bees, conceding the opening goal straight from kick-off. Their own kick-off. Brentford played the ball down the right and out of play, enabling Swansea to throw the ball down the line, Mads Bech Sørensen tried to return possession to Luke Daniels but under hit the pass. The speedy James beat Daniels to the ball and was wiped out by the goalkeeper, as referee Peter Bankes prepared to blow his whistle, Dyer arrived to tap in and put Swansea in front.
If Dyer had not scored, Daniels would almost certainly have been sent off for denying James the opportunity to slot the ball home. The Brentford goalkeeper was booked by Mr Bankes and Swansea had the lead. And with the confidence the goal gave them, the hosts went for the jugular. They dominated the first quarter of the contest, attacked with pace, looking to use James, in particular, out wide and flooding bodies through the centre. They also held a high position out of possession and gave Brentford no opportunity to build a rhythm or establish themselves in the game. At times the hosts were too intricate, and did not turn possession and territory in to shots and goal, but they were in command.
They could have scored a second when James cut in off the left and curled a shot that beat Daniels but cannoned away off the crossbar. And when space was worked for Bersant Celina 18 yards out, his shot was well saved low down by Daniels. Celina was at the heart of most of Swansea’s attacking play, knitting together their passing in the final third and looking for the killer ball.
Brentford started to get a foothold in the game as the first half developed. Romaine Sawyers and Kamohelo Mokotjo in midfield were able to find space to play and Moses Odubajo was an outlet on the left. The Bees tried to get their attackers in to the game but Neal Maupay and Saïd Benrahma were unable to break free of the home defence. Sergi Canós did find gaps to play but The Bees created little in the first half.
The one shot they did have, when a clever Benrahma lay-off created space for Canós ended with a Swansea attack. The shot from Canós was blocked and Dyer broke away at the other end, his pass found Connor Roberts, but the shot flew wide. And that was the sum of Brentford’s attacking play in the first half.
After a spell where they looked like they could build, Brentford conceded a second goal and were rocked back. It was another goal that The Bees will be disappointed to concede. A long ball from goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt allowed Dyer to race in behind the Brentford defence, he drew Daniels and rolled the ball between his legs to grab his second of the evening. And it could have got even worse for Brentford before the break.
James cut inside and fired a low shot wide and Celina hit the crossbar with a free kick from 22 yards as Brentford struggled to cope with Swansea’s attacking play. James, in particular, was a menace. Julian Jeanvier was booked for a foul on him late in the first half and while Henrik Dalsgaard prevented incursions on the left, as soon as James burst in to space in the middle, he opened The Bees up. That it was only 2-0 at half time was probably a relief for the visitors.
The interval did give The Bees a chance to regroup and the Brentford side that started the second period was much better than the one that finished the first. They played their passes with more intent and pace and there was an attacking instinct and creativity not seen in the first half. The game was more open as Brentford pushed and they approached the contest like they could get something out of it, which meant there were chances at both ends.
Odubajo had an early shot blocked and saw an effort saved later in the half while Benrahma fired over the bar. At the other end Celina curled an effort well off target before picking up a James pass and delivering to the far post where Wayne Routledge fed it back to Dyer, but he shot wide after slipping. That chance came when Brentford could have scored as Dalsgaard got away on the right and his cut back looked perfect for Benrahma to sweep home but Mike van der Hoorn made a vital clearance and his team broke.
Celina could have sealed the game soon after when he burst clear from halfway after the home side cleared a corner. He raced away and only had Daniels to beat but the Brentford goalkeeper stood up and made the save as the Swansea man tried to chip it home. With Swansea sitting deeper and deeper and Brentford getting more possession in the final third, that could have been a vital moment. But Swansea’s defensive organisation meant Brentford were not creating much and as the minutes ticked by, it looked less and less likely that The Bees would take anything from the game.
And all hope was extinguished when Swansea added a third with 12 minutes to go after a quick free kick following another foul on James. The ball was worked across to Oli McBurnie but he sliced his shot from 15 yards, Roberts arrived to lash an effort against the post and James picked up the loose ball and drilled it past Daniels and in to the net. It was a goal James deserved for a livewire performance. His pace terrified The Bees and while others provided more chances, it was the threat of James that was a key factor for the hosts.
With that goal, the game was up. Daniels made another save later on from Courtney Baker-Richardson while, at the other end, Brentford looked for a consolation. Maupay fired wide on the turn and then got in the way of a fierce Sawyers shot. Dalsgaard did have the ball in the net late on but was ruled offside. It was a goal that might have stood as even though Dalsgaard was offside from the original pass, a Swansea man diverted the ball to him. But it was ruled out and did not affect the overall result.
Swansea City: Nordfeldt; Roberts, van der Hoorn, Grimes, Naughton; Fulton, Byers; Dyer (sub Baker-Richardson 70 mins), Celina (sub McBurnie 70 mins), James (sub Carter-Vickers 81 mins); Routledge
Subs (not used): Benda, Asoro, McKay, John
Brentford: Daniels; Konsa, Jeanvier, Sørensen; Dalsgaard, Mokotjo (sub Dasilva 71 mins), Sawyers, Odubajo; Canós (sub Marcondes 60 mins), Maupay, Benrahma (sub Watkins 60 mins)
Subs (not used): Balcombe, Macleod, McEachran, Forss
Bookings: Daniels (1 min), Maupay (43 mins) (eighth of season), Jeanvier (45 mins) (fourth of season), Dalsgaard (77 mins) (ninth of season)