Jota hat-trick gives Bees win
Two goals in stoppage earned Brentford three points and their Spanish attacker Jota the match ball as Rotherham United were beaten at Griffin Park. The relegation-threatened Yorkshire outfit looked as if they might take a point when they made it 2-2 inside the final three minutes. But Jota, who had scored the first goal of another entertaining afternoon at Griffin Park, smashed home a penalty to put Brentford in front for the third occasion deep in to four minutes of stoppage time. And he then grabbed his third of the day with the last kick to ensure The Bees took the points.
For long periods Brentford were by far the better team but also looked as if they might lose the match, such was the see-saw nature of the afternoon. The Bees dominated the first period and had the lead but failed to build on it in the second half. When Nico Yennaris put them back in front with 12 minutes remaining it was slightly against the run of play and Rotherham, bottom of the Sky Bet Championship, equalised for a second time in the dying moments. But The Bees went up a gear, Jota converted a penalty to restore the lead and then finished off a breakaway to make it four and ensure there was no way Rotherham could come back.
The League One bound visitors came in to the game having picked up just one point away from home all season and started the game as if they did not believe that would change. Albeit that mind-set was very different later in the piece. Their plans were not helped by losing goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell in the warm-up and with Lewis Price promoted from the bench they could only name six substitutes. But even with the late switch, they were second best to Brentford for most of the first half. The Bees started quickly, looking to build on their midweek win at Sheffield Wednesday and Yennaris saw a shot from a half-cleared corner deflected wide inside the first 60 seconds.
The Bees also had a slightly unusual look about their line-up with injuries meaning Romaine Sawyers was retained as the central striker and captain Harlee Dean suspended. With Josh McEachran also injured, Ryan Woods took his role as the deep-lying playmaker. Konstantin Kerschbaumer and Yennaris were able to link with wingers Jota and Florian Jozefzoon and Brentford had an attacking threat that worried Rotherham. A Rico Henry cross just eluded Sawyers and a Kerschbaumer shot deflected over before a clever Yennaris pass put Jota through on goal and it took a superb recovery tackle from Aymen Belaïd to stop him scoring.
A cross-cum-shot from Jon Taylor deflected in to the side netting but when Jota put The Bees in front 13 minutes in, it was not a surprise. The goal owed much to Jozefzoon who got away on the left, beat a couple of defenders and cut the ball back to Jota, who fired across Price and in off the far post from a tight angle. The Spanish attacker was quicker to react to the loose ball and fired in to the smallest of targets. It could have been two soon after when Sawyers flicked a Jota cross wide and Yennaris saw a miss-hit shot saved.
Rotherham started with two banks of four protecting their goal and invited Brentford to break them down. The early goal meant they had to get their midfield slightly further forward and when Tom Adeyemi, looking suspiciously like he was offside, crossed from the right, John Egan made a fine tackle to prevent Danny Ward getting on to it. Will Vaulks fired well over for the hosts and Ward turned a Taylor cross wide but Brentford had the initiative and looked as if they could open Rotherham up.
Egan headed a Jota free-kick back in to the danger area and a Kerschbaumer shot looked destined for the bottom corner before hitting Andreas Bjelland and rolling wide. Moments later a cross from Jozefzoon, after another exciting run on the left, hit Belaïd and cannoned off the post. Jozefzoon then had a shot blocked after cutting inside and when Henry cross from the left moments later, Maxime Colin headed back and Rotherham had to scramble it clear. Henry was tormenting Rotherham on the left, along with Jozefzoon, and after another exciting run his cross was met by Sawyers and deflected wide.
The half ended with a long ball forward dropping to Semi Ajayi but he fired well wide for the visitors and they would have gone in at the break thinking themselves fortunate to be only one behind. And they almost levelled early in the second half when a long ball forward almost got Ward in behind but Daniel Bentley rushed out to head clear, when the ball was recycled Adeyemi was unable to reach a Stephen Kelly cross. Ajayi also had a header blocked soon after as Rotherham had a slightly more attacking outlook in the early stages of the second period.
But Brentford were still dominating possession and territory and Rotherham were happy to sit in and hope The Bees gave them the ball and an opportunity to counter-attack. The home side were, for their part, looking for a second goal to give them some breathing space. When Sawyers took a corner quickly and Kerschbaumer delivered a cross Jota had a shot blocked. And when The Bees put together a quick break from a Rotherham corner, Kerschbaumer saw a shot saved.
Yennaris saw a free kick blocked by a defensive wall before Woods smashed the loose ball wide and Kerschbaumer then saw a volley blocked before Jota fired wide from distance. But as the half developed Rotherham grew in confidence. Brentford were not offering as much in an attacking sense with much of their possession in unthreatening areas. That meant the visitors could attack and a long ball put Ward in behind but Bentley rushed out to save well. That only, however, delayed the Rotherham equaliser. When a free kick was half cleared moments later, Anthony Forde delivered a fine cross and Belaïd got his head to it, bravely nodding in to the corner with Bentley flying out.
It was a goal that felt like it was coming and Rotherham could have been ahead when Ward met a Forde corner soon after but Kerschbaumer headed off the line. Bentley then saved a deflected shot from Belaïd as the team with one away point all season went looking for three. And they should have been ahead with 15 minutes to go when Bentley slipped as he came to claim a Forde cross but Taylor somehow headed down and over the unguarded goal. That missed looked like it would be crucial when Yennaris arrived late to meet a Woods cross and poke past Price to put Brentford back in front.
The Bees had just introduced B Team striker Justin Shaibu to increase the attacking threat and chances had not been plentiful before Yennaris’ goal. Jota had a shot blocked and then delivered for Egan to head against a defender but Rotherham looked as if they had the upper hand when they fell behind for a second time. Canós could have made the game safe from a breakaway when he was set up by Sawyers and Jots but Price saved and Rotherham continued to attack. Vaulks fired well over and an Adeyemi header was blocked but the goal did come soon after. Brentford failed to clear their lines fully from a corner and Forde let fly from 25 yards with a shot that skimmed off the wet surface and arrowed in to the bottom corner.
With time running out that looked as if it may give the visitors a share of the spoils but Brentford came again. Sawyers had a shot blocked and when Woods picked out a clever run from Shaibu, Rotherham defender Ajayi blocked the ball with his arm to stop the striker’s progress. Referee Andy Davies awarded a penalty and Jota converted it, firing high down the middle and beating Price despite slipping as he connected with the ball.
There was still time left for Rotherham to attack and they won a free kick in a dangerous area. Brentford, however, cleared their lines and went straight on the attack. Sawyers’ pass left two Brentford players with only Price to beat, the first shot from Canós was saved but Jota picked up the pieces to roll it in and finally secure the win.
Brentford: Bentley; Colin, Egan, Bjelland, Henry; Woods; Jota, Yennaris, Kerschbaumer (sub Shaibu 77 mins), Jozefzoon (sub Canós 71 mins); Sawyers
Subs (not used): Bonham, Barbet, Field, Clarke, Cole
Bookings: Yennaris (34 mins) (sixth of season)
Rotherham United: Price; Kelly, Ajayi, Belaïd (sub Mattock 83 mins), Purrington; Taylor, Vaulks, Smallwood (sub Blackstock 86 mins), Newell (sub Forde 60 mins); Adeyemi; Ward
Subs (not used): Bray, Yates, Warren
Bookings: Taylor (16 mins)
Attendance: 9,918 (408 away fans)