Neal Maupay hit his 21st goal of the season in stoppage time as Brentford recorded another win over Aston Villa. The Bees are now unbeaten in six against the former European Cup winners and Maupay got the only goal of the game in the dying seconds to make it three wins out of three over Villa at Griffin Park in just over two years. It also enabled Brentford to bounce back after a ten-game unbeaten run was ended by Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
And it was three points that Brentford fully deserved. While Villa had their moments, and created some good chances on the counter-attack, they spent most of the evening on the defensive. Brentford pushed them back as they probed for chances and created enough to win two games. It looked as if the crucial one would not come before Maupay wriggled free to slot home and win the game with only moments remaining.
Brentford made a very bright start, getting on to the front foot immediately and pushing their hosts back. Sergi Canós, playing as a right wing back, was a bundle of energy and his forward drive was matched by Moses Odubajo on the left. With Saïd Benrahma and Ollie Watkins getting high up the pitch as well, most of the action in the first quarter was in Brentford’s attacking third.
There was an early save for Villa goalkeeper Lovre Kalinić as he tipped over a looping effort from Canós after a Maupay shot was blocked and Benrahma fired a free kick in to a defensive wall after a run had been unceremoniously halted by Glenn Whelan. A clever pass by Benrahma into the inside left channel released Watkins and he got past Tommy Elphick but saw a shot blocked. Yoann Barbet also saw a long-range effort blocked and Odubajo fired in to the side netting a Brentford dominated the first half hour.
Benrahma had another sight of goal when he got on to a Barbet pass but he fired wide of the far post as Brentford held the upper hand, without the lead. The Bees had been looking to use the width of the pitch with Benrahma and Watkins coming in central to support when needed but trying to push wide and get at the visiting full backs. Villa had been forced back and were limited to sporadic counter-attacks but a clever turn from Anwar El Ghazi enabled him to let fly from 25 yards and Daniel Bentley was forced to save well to his right.
A cross-cum-shot from the right touchline by Watkins had Kalinić momentarily back peddling furiously as it sailed over as half time approached and both teams had great chances to take the lead before the interval. Canós created Brentford’s opening with a dart down the right, a cross was half cleared and Benrahma shot wide on the turn from 15 yards when perhaps leaving the ball to the approaching Kamohelo Mokotjo may have been the better option. Villa’s chance was perhaps even better – an Alan Hutton pass was flicked by Tammy Abraham in to the path of Albert Adomah in the inside right channel, but he pulled a shot wide of Bentley’s post with the goal at his mercy.
John McGinn shot over at the start of the second half for Villa but Brentford once again took control of the game, forcing the visitors back in to their penalty area and prompting mistakes in possession. The Bees probed for an opening, working the ball across the pitch when needed and looking for whatever gap they could find. The chances continued to come but were, unfortunately, not taken.
Romaine Sawyers pulled a shot wide from the edge of the penalty area after great interplay between Benrahma and Maupay. Skipper Sawyers then saw a snap shot fade off target before a great burst from Canós enabled Maupay to step away from Tyrone Mings inside the penalty area and shoot wide from 15 yards. The Brentford striker would have expected to score from the position he found himself but could not hit the target.
Villa were fortunate to survive that and were probably luck again soon after. Kalinić went away to his right to save from Watkins after more clever interplay around the box and Sawyers appeared to be bundled over by Conor Hourihane as he went to meet the loose ball, but referee Gavin Ward said no offence was committed. Maupay then saw a shot blocked and an acrobatic effort from Benrahma was bravely intercepted by Hutton.
The chances continued to come for The Bees as they piled on the pressure around the hour mark. Watkins saw a shot blocked and was then on the end of a brilliant move that saw Sawyers release Mokotjo in behind and Maupay was waiting to tap in the cross before Hutton intervened. Canós was then unable to direct his header from Benrahma’s corner. A quick throw released Canós and his cross was met by Maupay, but he couldn’t convert at the near post under pressure from Mings.
For all Brentford’s pressure, Villa should have scored on the counter-attack. Sawyers lost the ball in midfield and Ahmed Elmohamady was released on the right, his first-time pass set Hourihane away with only Bentley to beat but the Brentford goalkeeper made himself big and he deflected the shot over the crossbar. Brentford dealt with the corner and were soon back on the front foot, looking for the crucial opening goal.
Kalinić got down to his right to save a free kick before a break on the left involving Odubajo and Maupay led to Benrahma, who had seen the free kick test the Villa goalkeeper, firing wide. Canós had a shot blocked with Maupay unable to force home the loose ball and a long-range effort from Barbet was blocked before a Watkins cross flew across the face of goal, begging to be tapped in. Another Benrahma shot was saved as the minutes ticked down and it looked as if the crucial goal would not come.
Abraham could have got it for Villa when he met a cross from the right, but his only chance of the night was headed straight at Bentley. When Maupay got on to a Sawyers pass after some nice interplay around the penalty area and seemed to wrong-foot Kalinić with a shot it looked like Brentford had a winner, but the goalkeeper got down to save and that appeared to have earned his team a point. But there was still time. A long pass from Sawyers was fed on to Benrahma by Tom Field, via Mokotjo, and he found Maupay, the striker turned away from Elphick, feinted past Mings and lashed in to the top corner to win the game for The Bees.
Brentford: Bentley; Konsa, Jeanvier, Barbet; Canós (sub Field 83 mins), Sawyers, Mokotjo, Odubajo; Watkins, Maupay, Benrahma (sub Ogbene 90 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Sørensen, Dasilva, McEachran, Forss
Aston Villa: Kalinić; Hutton, Elphick, Mings, Hause; Whelan, Hourihane (sub Kodjia 84 mins); El Ghazi (sub Green 59 mins), McGinn, Adomah (sub Elmohamady 59 mins); Abraham
Subs (not used): Steer, Jedinak, Bjarnason, Ramsey
Bookings: Hutton (40 mins)
Attendance: 9,636 (1,610 away fans)