First half goals give Brentford win over Leeds United at Griffin Park
Brentford made it three wins on the bounce as Leeds United were beaten at Griffin Park. First half goals from Romaine Sawyers, his first in the league at Griffin Park, and Lasse Vibe were enough to defeat the promotion-chasing side. And it was a win Brentford deserved. Their first half performance was a joy to behold and Leeds were lucky to still be in the game. When the pressure was then applied after the interval Brentford stood firm to get the win.
Sergi Canós was once again at the heart of things for The Bees. After three goals in his past two games he contributed a pair of assists on a mild April evening in West London and tormented Leeds. His contribution meant The Bees were 2-0 up just past the half hour and they never really looked like losing that lead.
Brentford came in to the game on the back of wins against relegation-threatened Burton Albion and Bristol City and although Leeds were likely to be a tougher test, The Bees were on the front foot from the first whistle. They could have been ahead inside 70 seconds when Canós cut in off the left and let fly with a powerful shot but it was always rising over the crossbar. Jota, on the opposite flank, was the next to try his luck and when his shot was blocked, Rob Green beat Nico Yennaris to the loose ball.
Brentford had set out the way they intended to attack their visitors. Both Canós and Jota got at their full backs at every opportunity, supported by Josh Clarke and Rico Henry. They went inside and outside and with Sawyers knitting play together in midfield The Bees had a real potency going forward. When Jota intercepted a pass and attacked from deep he found Canós 20 yards out but the shot was blocked. Leeds were not, however, able to clear their lines, Clarke skipped away from Stuart Dallas and cut back for Canós but he blasted over from ten yards.
While Brentford would have been happiest after the opening 15 minutes, they did not have everything their own way. Leeds had spells of possession and looked to attack down the left when they could. Gaetano Berardi headed a Dallas cross wide when well-placed and, from a short corner soon after, Pablo Hernàndez fired across the face of goal. Modou Barrow also had a shot blocked and saved after Kalvin Phillips had won the ball well in midfield from Sawyers but much of Leeds’ play was to look to get the ball on the head of Chris Wood and he was being expertly marshalled by Harlee Dean.
As the game headed toward the 20-minute mark, Brentford had control and the lead. The goal was superbly finished by Sawyers and was well deserved when it arrived. It was also superbly executed. Jota broke away on the right and cut inside, Canós let fly with a shot that Green saved superbly but Sawyers arrived to smash a first-time volley back past the experienced goalkeeper and in to the net. Green’s first save seemed to have done the job for his side but his defence was slow to react at the former England goalkeeper had no time to re-set himself for the second shot.
Leeds tried to respond but Wood’s first sight of goal saw him fire the ball out for a throw on after cutting in off the left. Dallas then had a volley blocked after a cross was half cleared and from a corner soon after, Kyle Bartley failed to properly direct a free header ten yards out and when the ball dropped Luke Ayling volleyed over. But those were rare attacks from the visitors. Brentford were putting the visitors to the sword with a scintillating attacking display, mainly built on pace out wide.
Canós was unable to turn home a deep Clarke cross before Vibe got on to a clever pass from the irrepressible Sawyers, he only had Green to beat but, under severe pressure, could only poke the ball inches past the post. The second goal was not, however, long in coming and once again it was one to savour. Yoann Barbet spread the play out to the right to find the marauding Clarke, Yennaris dummied his ball inside and Canós latched on to it, he skipped away from the ponderous Pontus Jansson and let fly with a shot that Green saved superbly but Vibe was quickest to react to poke home. Once again Green was let down by his defence after a great save and he made that clear in no uncertain terms.
It could have been even better for The Bees before the break as Vibe got away from Bartley and on to a Henry pass but his shot was blocked. The ball was recycled and Sawyers slipped a ball through to Canós, he only had Green to beat but the Leeds goalkeeper made a stupendous save, clawing the lofted shot out as a goal seemed inevitable. The half ended with Brentford on the attack and Daniel Bentley’s only real touch was getting down well to stop a low Hernàndez cross reaching its target.
The second period looked as if it would continue in the same fashion as Brentford flew out of the traps. Barbet fired a free kick in to the defensive wall after Canós had been fouled again. And when Canós got away again on the left his pass found Jota but the shot was blocked. That was, however, something of a false dawn for The Bees as far as the second period was concerned. Leeds stormed back and took control of the game for the first time.
The visitors got their wide players in to the game, particularly Barrow on the right, and picked up more loose balls in midfield. While they had been second to most things before the break and unable to cope with Brentford’s passing game, they were getting tackles in, picking their own passes better and playing on the front foot. And they started to create openings.
Hernàndez released Barrow with a superb pass and his shot looked to be arrowing in before Dean made a brave headed block and when the ball was recycled Wood headed over. Dallas blasted well wide after cutting inside before Wood set up Berardi for a shot that Bentley saved low to his left. Ayling then met a Hernàndez shot on the volley and tested Bentley again and the Brentford goalkeeper then saved from Alfonzo Pedraza after the substitute had escaped on the left and fired in an effort from a tight angle.
Jansson had the best chance for Leeds when he met a Hernàndez corner at the far post but his header was once again blocked by the colossus Dean and that seemed to signal the end of Leeds’ push. They took off Liam Bridcutt soon after in search of more attacking threat but conceded the control they had in midfield and Brentford were able to press on. The Bees introduced fresh legs in the form of Florian Jozefzoon and Alan McCormack and the home side had more energy. Even the loss of Yennaris and Ryan Woods, who had been superb in the holding role, to injury did not affect The Bees.
Jota fired a shot just wide and then curled a free kick towards the near post only for Green to push it over. Green made an even better doubled save soon after to keep his team in it. Sawyers set Vibe away with only the goalkeeper to beat but he saved the low shot with his feet and then scrambled back to prevent Jozefzoon’s follow-up going in. Woods, before his departure, then helped Vibe set up Sawyers but the shot was blocked.
As the game entered its dying stages Leeds continued to press but they seemed to lack the conviction that they would get something from the game. And Brentford were threatening on the break. Vibe ran 40 yards before getting a shot away that was blocked and Konstantin Kerschbaumer then set up Sawyers for a shot that was blocked. Berardi shot inches wide for the visitors and in the final seconds Wood looked like he was clear in the middle but Dean and Barbet recovered to gang up on him and stop him shooting. It summed up the performance of Brentford’s defenders and ensured they had a clean sheet to go with their win.
Brentford: Bentley; Clarke, Dean, Barbet, Henry; Woods (sub Kerschbaumer 84 mins); Jota, Yennaris (sub McCormack 68 mins), Sawyers, Canós (sub Jozefzoon 74 mins); Vibe
Subs (not used): Bonham, Egan, Field, Hofmann
Bookings: McCormack (74 mins) (third of season), Sawyers (84 mins) (sixth of season)
Leeds United: Green; Ayling, Jansson, Bartley, Berardi; Bridcutt (sub Doukara 72 mins), Phillips, Barrow (sub Roofe 66 mins), Hernàndez, Dallas (sub Pedraza 59 mins); Wood
Subs (not used): Silvestri, O’Kane, Taylor, Vieira
Attendance: 10,759 (1,656 away fans)