Brentford came from behind to beat Norwich City in a behind closed doors friendly in Norfolk. The Bees trailed early on, despite starting well, but were level inside two minutes thanks to an Emiliano Marcondes goal. The Bees had control of large periods of the game but had to wait until the final quarter to get the goals that gave them a 3-1 win.
The Bees are a week further ahead in their preparations given Norwich will play in the Premier League in 2019/20 after winning the Sky Bet Championship last season. But even with that as a factor, Brentford were worth their win. Ollie Watkins put the visitors – who had spent a few days in Norfolk on a mini training camp ahead of the game – in front and then delivered a free kick for Ethan Pinnock to score a match-sealing third goal.
Brentford started the game, which was played in mostly sweltering conditions on a sunny summer afternoon, positively. They got in to good attacking positions early on, without being able to make the most of it. A Rico Henry ball fizzed across the face of goal and Sergi Canós was also close to finding a team mate from a good position. Canós was also just unable to get on to a clever chipped pass from Marcondes when he only had Ralf Fährmann to beat.
When Norwich went ahead inside the opening ten minutes, it was their first piece of attacking possession. Space was created on the left by Onel Hernández and he found Emi Buendía on the edge of the penalty area. The Argentinian attacker steadied himself and curled a shot from 20 yards past the outstretched arm of David Raya and in to the net.
That could have changed the course of the game but, instead, Brentford hit back immediately. After some nice interplay in the centre of the field, Canós was able to play a pass through the centre of the Norwich defence, Marcondes got on it, between Ben Godfrey and Sam Byram, rounded Fährmann and slotted home. The pass was perfectly weighted by Canós, finding Marcondes when Watkins may have been the more obvious ball, and the chance was finished expertly.
After two goals in a little over a minute, the game settled down. Brentford had the upper hand, having more of the ball and holding a territorial advantage, but the teams were fairly evenly matched and there were few chances. Canós was the liveliest player on show, one run almost created an opening for Watkins and the Spanish attacker also had a shot blocked as half time approached.
A short break to allow players from both sides to take on water – while the pitch was also refreshed – affected the flow of the game a little but Brentford soon regained the upper hand. A delightful pass from Canós set Josh Clarke away and his low cross was met by Watkins. The shot may have found the net but for a block from a Norwich defender. The ball was recycled and Watkins found Marcondes but the shot was blocked and, when the ball was again picked up by The Bees, a Canós effort was blocked.
The Bees were forced in to a reshuffle when Rico Henry was withdrawn and replaced by Jan Žambůrek. Henry had suffered a strong challenge earlier in the game but walked off and the substitution appeared to be precautionary. Watkins forced Fährmann in to a low save at the near post soon after as Brentford continued to press.
But Norwich ended the half on top. A quick break, after Mathias Jensen had failed to find Marcondes at the other end, ended with Hernández in space but his shot was deflected away. Hernández was in the action soon after, getting free on the left behind new right wing back Canós and delivering a cross that was met by Josip Drmić but the effort lacked pace and Raya made the save.
A half time change from Norwich – introducing Marco Stiepermann in to midfield – changed the pattern of the game. There was less space to play and with Brentford also withdrawing Canós at the break, The Bees posed less of an attacking threat in the early stages of the second half. But Brentford were well-drilled at the back and snuffed out anything Norwich could muster in attack.
It was Brentford who put together the first good piece of attacking play after the interval. A smart pass released Watkins in the inside right channel and he set off towards goal, he picked out Marcondes with a pass but the shot was miss-hit. The ball broke back to Watkins and the shot deflected away for a corner.
A few minutes later, The Bees got away in a similar position but this time made it count. Marcus Forss, on as a substitute playing centre forward, found the space this time and he cut the ball back to Watkins. This time the finish was unerring and Brentford had the lead.
Luke Daniels saved a low free kick from Philip Heise and good work from Frederik Hammar at the other end created shooting chances for Jan Žambůrek and Watkins, both of which were blocked. The Bees got the crucial third from a free kick with ten minutes remaining. Watkins curled it in low and as bodies flew everywhere and referee Keith Stroud waved away appeals, Pinnock arrived late to poke home from close range.
Forss could have added a fourth at the death when he met another free kick from Watkins but Norwich also went looking for a way back in to the game. A superb back heel from Tom Trybull put Max Aarons in to space inside the area, he got away from Pinnock and kept his feet when he might have been fouled before he lashed a shot against the near post. A late corner enabled Adam Idah to head wide and that was Norwich’s last chance to get something from the game.
Norwich City: Fährmann (sub Krul h/t); Byram, Klose (sub Hanley 65 mins), Godfrey (sub Aarons 77 mins), Heise (sub Lewis 77 mins); McLean (sub Cantwell 77 mins), Leitner (sub Trybull 77 mins); Buendía (sub Idah 77 mins), Srbeny, Hernández (sub Roberts 77 mins); Drmić (sub Stiepermann h/t)
Bookings: Godfrey (86 mins)
Brentford: Raya (sub Daniels h/t); Jeanvier, Jansson (sub Pinnock 60 mins), Racic; Clarke, Jensen (sub Oksanen 77 mins), J. Dasilva (sub Nørgaard 60 mins), Henry (sub Žambůrek 36 mins); Canós (sub Hammar h/t), Watkins, Marcondes (sub Forss 60 mins)