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Sunderland 0 Brentford 2

Two first half goals give Brentford the away win

17 February 2018

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Kamohelo Mokotjo’s first goal in a Brentford shirt put The Bees on their way to a win over relegation-threatened Sunderland. The South African international put Brentford in front inside a first 15 minutes they completely dominated and Neal Maupay made it two soon after. Those two goals were enough for The Bees to take the points on their first ever visit to the Stadium of Light.

The 2-0 victory was the least Brentford deserved for a commanding display against the side that started the day next to bottom of the Sky Bet Championship. They should have been out of sight inside the first 20 minutes and although the hosts responded, The Bees never looked like losing their lead. There was a bit of a storm to weather at the start of the second half but few really good chances for the hosts and Brentford saw the game out to take the win.

Brentford were on the front foot from the first seconds. They dominated the first quarter of the match and should have been more than one ahead. The Bees arguably had the chances to have the game completely won by the midway point of the first half. They played through Sunderland at will, the hosts unable to prevent Brentford picking their passes and creating chances.

The only goal Brentford did score in that opening salvo was from the unlikely source of Mokotjo. The midfielder grabbed his first goal since joining The Bees in the summer when he got on to a Maupay lay-off and lashed the ball in to the bottom corner from 20 yards. The shot went through the legs of a couple of defenders and left Lee Camp helpless as it flew in to the corner of the net.

That came 13 minutes in and Brentford should have been a couple up before Mokotjo’s strike. The first opening came just 40 seconds in when Josh McEachran played a ball over the top, Florian Jozefzoon beat Camp to it but John O’Shea came across to stop the shot and concede a corner. That was played in, Andreas Bjelland nodded back and Maupay headed wide on the stretch. Jozefzoon had another great chance when he picked up a cross-field pass from Bjelland and, after involving Maupay and Henrik Dalsgaard, then shot straight at Camp from 12 yards.

Jozefzoon’s chance was a golden one and if the shot had been either side of Camp it would have found the net. Camp also saved a near post shot from Ollie Watkins before the opening goal and the resulting corner let to another chance. It was worked cleverly shot and Watkins weaved in to the box before getting off a shot was blocked. When Mokotjo scored a few moments later it was not surprise.

And there was no let up from The Bees. Mokotjo and Watkins created a chance for Maupay but the shot was blocked and Romaine Sawyers joined in moments later to help fashion another opening. This time Maupay fed Watkins and the curling strike from 20 yards flew just over. Jozefzoon shot just after and weaving in to the box after a free kick was played shot and another Watkins effort was blocked.

Sunderland had been passive for the first quarter of the match. There were signs they were trying to take a starting position high up the pitch but there was no coordination so Brentford found it easy to play through and around them. McEachran and Sawyers found space easily and Mokotjo’s running enabled him to pick up the majority of loose balls. With Jozefzoon and Watkins tormenting the home defence, Brentford had the ascendency.

The first signs of life from the hosts came when Aiden McGeady burst through midfield and let fly with a shot that Daniel Bentley saved low to his left but moments later Brentford had a second. It came after some scrappy play in midfield but Watkins won the ball and then got in to the box and on to Jozefzoon’s pass. Watkins cut the ball back and Maupay flicked it between his legs and past Camp to make it two. It was an instinctive finish from the French striker and gave Brentford a cushion.

With two goals to chase, Sunderland had to come forward. They looked to use the ball up to Ashley Fletcher or in behind the defence on the Brentford left for Joel Asoro to chase. Brentford were playing all the football but were now more counter-attacking. The game was being played less in Sunderland territory but The Bees still had the chances to completely wrap the game up by the break. Maupay saw a header from a McEachran free kick blocked and the striker then had a shot blocked after Jozefzoon had recycled when he was unable to make a telling pass first time.

Sawyers had a shot blocked late in the half and Camp saved a low Dalsgaard effort but Sunderland came closest to grabbing the third goal of the first period. George Honeyman shot in to the side netting when a long free kick dropped loose and Bentley spready himself to deny Asoro when the winger got in behind on the right. A bouncing McGeady effort was easy for Bentley but the hosts should have scored in first half stoppage time when a free kick was half cleared and Honeyman had sight of goal from 15 yards but his effort was always rising and flicked the crossbar on its way over.

That was a warning for The Bees that the game was not done. And the home side went straight on the attack at the start of the second half. Asoro weaved his way through on the right and cut the ball back but McGeady shot wide from ten yards. That would have given the hosts a boost and they had other chances just after the break. Bjelland made a crucial block when Jonny Williams tried to finish off a McGeady cut back and Asoro blasted well over when well-placed.

But with Sunderland attacking, there was space for The Bees to exploit. The visitors were playing more on the counter-attack as Sunderland started to dominate possession but they still created openings. Jozefzoon had a shot blocked after weaving in to the box and Maupay blasted over after robbing Lee Cattermole. There was a golden chance for Sawyers when he snuck in to the penalty area and got on to a Mokotjo cross but he nodded over from ten yards.

Sunderland made two changes at the interval and expended a lot of energy as they tried to find a way back in to the game. But Brentford weathered the storm and as the minutes ticked down, they started the take the sting out of the contest. It became a quite niggly affair with lots of stoppages and a few challenges that were close to the mark. Fletcher was booked for a late tackle on Bjelland and was perhaps fortunate not to collect a second yellow card for a similarly late challenge on Dalsgaard ten minutes later.

Bentley saved a near post shot from the still dangerous Asoro and then denied the same man after a quick break soon after before Jake Clarke-Salter headed wide. At the other end a deflected shot from Sawyers had Camp scrambling and happy to see the ball loop just past his post. Josh Maja was unable to reach an Asoro cross to head home and Bentley saved a weak Honeyman effort before a poor clearance from Josh Clarke looked like it had let in Williams but Bjelland was quickly across and made the block.

There was one last chance for Sunderland to mount a comeback when Cattermole delivered a cross from the fight, McGeady fed it back and Maja could only divert it over with his chest from ten yards. With that chance missed, it was only a question of whether Brentford would add another. Alan Judge shot weakly wide after a quick break and O’Shea made a fine block to prevent Watkins scoring when he got in behind. A third goal would have been the icing on the cake but Brentford didn’t need it to get the win and headed south with all three points.

Sunderland: Camp; Jones, O’Shea, Browning (sub Williams h/t), Clarke-Salter; Cattermole, Robson (sub Matthew h/t); Asoro, Honeyman, McGeady; Fletcher (sub Maja 74 mins)

Subs (not used): Steele, McManaman, Gooch, Kone

Bookings: Jones (36 mins), Fletcher (64 mins), McGeady (74 mins)

Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Egan, Bjelland, Clarke; McEachran (sub Woods 58 mins); Jozefzoon, Sawyers, Mokotjo (sub Judge 77 mins), Watkins; Maupay (sub Emiliano 84 mins)

Subs (not used): Daniels, Mepham, Barbet, Macleod

Attendance: 27,702 (1,227 Bees fans)

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