A spirited comeback from Brentford could not prevent Swansea City taking the points at Griffin Park. A goal inside the first 25 seconds from Wayne Routledge set the visitors on their way and when they grabbed two more before the half hour, the game looked over. Brentford fought back and goals from Ollie Watkins and Saïd Benrahma gave them hopes of completing a remarkable comeback. But the third would not come and Swansea had a 3-2 win.
Brentford lost the game in the first half hour and could not find a way to come all the way back in to it. They conceded before many had taken their seats and two goals in quick succession around the midway point of the first half gave them a mountain to climb. Watkins headed in as they started the comeback and there were chances either side of Benrahma’s goal that could have seen Brentford earn a share of the spoils, but it was Swansea that got over the line.
The game could not have started in a worse fashion for Brentford, a goal down before they had even put together a spell of possession. Swansea attacked from kick-off but Chris Mepham won the ball back and fed Daniel Bentley, the ball was worked to Ezri Konsa but Barrie McKay read it, harried his man and won it back. McKay then got to the by-line and cut the ball back for the arriving Routledge to slide in and poke the ball home.
It was a goal that Brentford gifted to their visitors and the afternoon went quickly downhill from there. By the time the game was half an hour old, Swansea had a 3-0 lead and the only blot on their day was a serious-looking injury to left back Martin Olsson. That came inside the first ten minutes and there was a lengthy delay while he was removed on a stretcher. Brentford had responded well to the early goal initially, Watkins firing just wide at the near post, but Swansea quickly regained focus after the goal and the injury and took command.
They could have scored soon after the stoppage when Watkins was robbed in midfield, Matthew Grimes burst forward and his shot from 25 yards bent just over the bar. Connor Roberts also shot wide from distance for Swansea while, at the other end, a deep Henrik Dalsgaard cross was recycled by Benrahma and a Neal Maupay effort was saved. After 20 minutes, which included that long delay, Swansea had the lead but not complete control. Within seven minutes, they had a match-winning lead.
The second goal will be credited as a Mepham own goal but was superbly created by the visitors. They moved the ball up the pitch on the left with a series of incisive passes before Nathan Dyer made one final, classy, exchange with Oliver McBurnie and then tried to play it back to his team mate. McBurnie could not get the touch but the ball bounced off Mepham and rolled agonisingly over the line to double Swansea’s lead.
The third came within five minutes and was another for Brentford to forget. A free kick was half cleared and Routledge put it back in to the middle, McBurnie had the space to acrobatically try to convert but his effort turned in to a cross for Leroy Fer and he poked the ball in. It could have been even worse for Brentford soon after as Joe Rodon got up to meet a deep free kick and his powerful header had to be smartly saved low down by Bentley.
The Bees were rocking at this point. Swansea were forcing mistakes with their all-energy approach but Brentford were contributing to their own downfall with some sloppy passing. The visitors were winning most of the second balls and had control of the midfield area while Brentford tried to fight fire with fire, looking to attack and find a way back in to the game.
They could have got one back when, after a move down the left, Romaine Sawyers fed a pass in to Benrahma and his shot clipped the crossbar as it fizzed over. McKay shot wide at the other end but there were signs that the effort Swansea had put in to the start of the game was starting to tell. There were spaces for Brentford to play and the central midfield players, particularly Josh McEachran, were able to drive forward and get The Bees on the front foot.
Benrahma could have reduced the deficit when he curled a shot wide of the far post after exchanging passes with Watkins. Nico Yennaris then won a midfield battle and Watkins was able to feed Maupay in the inside right channel but Mike van der Hoorn got back to make a challenge and the shot deflected wide for a corner. The goal Brentford were threatening did, however, come soon after. A corner was half cleared and McEachran was left with the space to let fly from 22 yards, the shot beat Erwin Mulder and cannoned off the crossbar but dropped on to the head of Watkins and he nodded in.
The goal had been coming and while Brentford were struggling defensively, they had shown enough going forward to suggest they could trouble Swansea. With referee Andy Woolmer signalling eight minutes of stoppage time, Brentford sensed a chance to continue the fight back. However, McBurnie was allowed to waste two minutes of that receiving treatment and Brentford went in at the break two down.
They tried to regain the initiative after the break by introducing Alan Judge for McEachran, but Swansea had also had time to recover and they started the second half on the front foot. With Brentford pressing forward and Swansea looking to counter-attack whenever they could, the second period was incredibly open. And with rain falling heavily a slick surface only increased the speed of the game and the sense of spectacle.
When McBurnie beat Mepham to a bouncing ball, McKay was put through with only Bentley to beat but the Brentford goalkeeper made himself big and won the battle. The cross came back in from the right but Fer could only head wide. Roberts then burst from midfield and played a one-two with McKay before hitting the outside of the near post with a low shot. McBurnie headed against the top of the crossbar and Bentley made a flying save to his left from Fer as Swansea looked for the goal that would surely have killed Brentford off.
But The Bees were having chances of their own. Maupay lashed over the bar from 22 yards when a pass to Judge on his right may have produced a better result before a low free kick from Benrahma just eluded a stretching Watkins. Watkins went close again soon after when Dalsgaard delivered a cross on the run that he met with a swivel volley but Mulder was well-positioned and made the save.
McKay was unable to convert a Routledge cross as Swansea broke but minutes later Brentford had a golden chance to reduce the arrears. A ball in from Judge deflected in to the path of Maupay but he took too many touches and Mulder made the save. The Brentford man looked for an offside flag as the chance went begging but he was unmarked eight yards out and should have scored. Brentford did not, however, have to wait much longer for the goal.
Benrahma won a free kick with a weaving run that took him to the edge of the penalty area and took the responsibility himself. The attacker scored his first league goal for The Bees as he bent a free kick over the wall and past a stationary Mulder to make it 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining. Swansea were rocking and Brentford pushed, looking like they would get the crucial third goal.
Watkins fired across the face of goal when a corner was half-cleared and then saw a shot deflect wide. That corner dropped to Sawyers 25 yards out and he lashed back an effort that beat Mulder but whistled past the post. Maupay headed a Judge free kick over before a great piece of play on the left from Rico Henry enabled him to deliver a cross that Dalsgaard would have headed in but for great work by Roberts at the far post.
Judge sliced a shot well wide after good work by Sergi Canós and the later stages were one-way traffic as Swansea dropped and Brentford pressed. A clever Judge dummy of a Sawyers pass then allowed Watkins space inside the area, but his low ball was neither shot nor cross and Mulder saved. Kamohelo Mokotjo had a shot blocked before the best chance of the dying stages when the ball was recycled, Maupay crossed, Mepham headed back and Canós acrobatically volleyed against the crossbar. Even in the dying seconds, with Bentley up for a late corner, a Henry shot was saved by Mulder but Brentford ran out of time and Swansea held on to take the win.
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Henry; McEachran (sub Judge h/t); Watkins, Sawyers, Yennaris (sub Mokotjo 70 mins), Benrahma (sub Canós 79 mins); Maupay
Subs (not used): Daniels, Odubajo, Barbet, Dasilva
Bookings: Dalsgaard (84 mins) (sixth of season)
Swansea City: Mulder; Naughton, van der Hoorn, Rodon, Olsson (sub Roberts 14 mins); Fer, Grimes; Routledge (sub Carter-Vickers 79 mins), McKay, Dyer (sub Fulton 67 mins); McBurnie
Subs (not used): Nordfeldt, Bony, Montero, Celina
Bookings: Carter-Vickers (80 mins), Roberts (84 mins)
Attendance: 9,442 (1,650 away fans)