Brentford were forced to a settle for a point against Norwich City after the visitors equalised in the dying stages with a deflected goal. The Bees had the better of most of the contest and had a 1-0 lead going in to the final three minutes thanks to Ivan Toney’s eighth goal of the season. But a shot from Kenny McLean that was more than a little speculative deflected in off Mads Bech Sørensen and Norwich had a share of the spoils.
Brentford will feel they deserved to win overall. The visitors started well but The Bees dominated for more than an hour and could have had more than one goal to show for it. That they did not have that second goal proved to be vital when Norwich found a late leveller to take a point in a 1-1 draw.
It was obvious from the early exchanges that the two teams both came with intentions to attack and were matched up well. They employed similar styles, playing mostly short, through defence and in to midfield and looking to get the ball in and out of the centre of the park quickly. Both were content to be patient if needed, had their attacking players high up the pitch out of possession and wanted to win the ball in opposition territory.
It was a fairly even start to the game with Norwich perhaps slightly shading the opening quarter. They had a little more possession and the best chance of the opening exchanges with deep lying midfield players Oliver Skipp and Lukus Rupp seeing a lot of the ball. They should have gone ahead when a flick by Rupp set Emi Buendía away, he worked his way past Henrik Dalsgaard and Ethan Pinnock but was unable to beat David Raya. Buendía took half of Brentford’s defence out of the game with a great touch and clever feint but his shot was too close to Raya and the home goalkeeper pushed it over the bar.
Norwich had other chances in the early stages. Rupp had a shot blocked and Raya held on to a header from Jacob Sørensen after Grant Hanley had won a deep free kick. Norwich’s Sørensen had not been due to start the game but was a late change when Xavi Quintillà pulled out just before kick-off. He had a good start to the game at left back but failed to get on top of his attempt at goal.
Mario Vrančić headed over for the visitors and was then set up by Rupp for a shot from 22 yards that flew wide during an opening 20 minutes where Norwich were turning good possession in to chances. Brentford had an early sight of goal when Mathias Jensen go on to a long throw that dropped loose but his shot was blocked. Another long throw fell to Dalsgaard at the far post but his shot on the swivel bounced wide.
As the half wore on, Brentford started to take command of the game. Jensen was dictating play at the base of the home midfield with Emiliano Marcondes and Josh Dasilva taking up more advanced positions to assist their attacking colleagues and stop Norwich playing up the pitch. The Bees forced errors and by the time they went ahead, they deserved their lead.
The goal came when Brentford won the ball in the Norwich half as Todd Cantwell gave it to Jensen. Jensen played the ball to Mbeumo and Saman Ghoddos was released in to space. Mbeumo raced in to the area and fed the ball across the box for Toney to convert from close range. Brentford had ruthlessly exploited a change in possession and had the lead just before the half hour.
An earlier mistake by Tim Krul could have seen Brentford ahead a few minutes earlier but Dasilva, after good work by Marcondes and Toney, bounced a cross-cum-shot wide of the far post. Once they got ahead, The Bees pushed forward, looking to make the most of their advantage. After a long spell of possession and Dasilva cross dropped to Jensen 18 yards out and his shot flew past Krul but wide of the far post.
Marcondes could have doubled the lead when he met a Rico Henry cross 12 yards out, but he flicked a header wide and there was a great chance soon after. The Bees played a throw in short, Jensen delivered and Toney met the cross with a powerful header that looked to have beaten Krul before the goalkeeper flew away to his right to save. The ball dropped and Mbeumo fired in to the side netting from a tight angle when he probably had a little more time that he thought.
The Bees seemed in complete control, but Norwich ended the half well and could have levelled when Hanley met a Buendía free kick 12 yards out, but he headed over the bar. That pattern was not, however, continued after the break. The visitors made a change at the interval with Przemtsław Płacheta replacing Cantwell, but The Bees had command. They continued to control the midfield area and were creating the better chances.
Pinnock headed a deep free kick across the penalty area, but no-one could get there to force it home and when a long throw dropped loose inside the penalty area, Marcondes was set to shoot when Buendía robbed him. The Bees appealed that a foul had been committed but referee Jeremy Simpson waved away protests. A fierce Jensen shot stung the palms of Krul soon after and the Norwich goalkeeper made a better save moments later. Dalsgaard intercepted a ball forward and continued up the pitch. When a Mbeumo cross was headed down, the Brentford right back was there to shoot but Krul saved. Dalsgaard directed his shot too close to Krul when an effort more in to the corner would not have been saved.
Norwich failed to clear the resulting corner, Dasilva played a one-two with Toney and cut the ball back for Sergi Canós but he bounced a shot wide. Dasilva then fired straight at Krul after quick interplay in midfield as Brentford pressed for a second goal to give themselves breathing space. The Bees had the upper hand but only had a single goal lead with 15 minutes remaining and Norwich made changes to try and alter the flow of the game.
The visitors took off both Skipp and Rupp, who had been peripheral after a bright start, and changed their shape, introducing a second centre forward. They had not offered much in the way of attacking prior to the changes, with Pukki having a shot blocked early in the second half, but had more width after the change and looked to use it. A Max Aarons cross could have been converted by Buendía, but he missed his kick, and the effort from Płacheta was blocked.
As the game entered the final stages, Norwich had the initiative. They were picking up more of the increasing number of loose balls, were playing passes in behind and won free kicks in dangerous areas. One deep delivery was headed up in the air by Ben Gibson, and subsequently cleared, when Vrančić was better placed before a Buendía free kick flew across the face of goal.
When Norwich got their equaliser, it had more than an element of fortune about it. McLean turned in to a fraction of space and let fly with a speculative shot from 25 yards. It would not have troubled Raya and may even have been going wide before it deflected off Brentford’s Sørensen. The deflection wrong-footed Raya and he could only scramble across his line as the ball rolled agonisingly in to the net.
Norwich ran to get the ball like they designs on winning the game but Canós almost came up with a winner for The Bees with a shot that deflected wide with Krul looking unlikely to reach the shot had it been on target. A Buendía effort deflected wide at the other end and Raya held on to a header from Norwich’s Sørensen in the dying seconds. A winner for Norwich would have been particularly harsh on The Bees, who extended their current run to one defeat in four by taking a point.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Pinnock, Sørensen, Henry; Marcondes, Jensen, Dasilva (sub Janelt 70 mins); Mbeumo, Toney (sub Forss 83 mins), Ghoddos (sub Canós 59 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Thompson, Goode, Fosu
Bookings: Janelt (80 mins)
Norwich City: Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Sørensen; Skipp (sub McLean 69 mins), Rupp (sub Hugill 69 mins); Buendía, Vrančić, Cantwell (sub Płacheta h/t); Pukki
Subs (not used): McGovern, Stiepermann, Tetty
Bookings: Gibson (78 mins)