A single goal was enough for Norwich City to take the points and condemn Brentford to defeat on a wet and wild afternoon in East Anglia. The only goal of the game was scored by Emi Buendía just past the half hour and Brentford could not find a way back. Daniel Bentley saved a penalty at the end of the first period to keep The Bees in touch and although Neal Maupay hit the crossbar late on, Brentford slipped to defeat.
It was probably a harsh loss on the balance of the 90 minutes. The game had been even, with Brentford perhaps holding the upper hand slightly, when Norwich took the lead and although they had a good spell after, they were never dominant. Brentford had much the better of the second period, albeit they did not create as much as their possession might have and could have earned a point with late chances, but they were not taken and Norwich got the win.
There was an even start to the encounter with both teams setting out their stalls inside the first ten minutes. Norwich tried to get their team as high up the pitch as possible, preventing Brentford playing in and out of midfield. They worked hard off the ball and tried to win possession back in Brentford territory and turn that in to chances.
Brentford were prepared to be circumspect in the opening exchanges. They tried to play through Norwich’s midfield when they could but were also happy to bide their time and keep the ball in their own defensive areas when needed. The Bees looked to find Sergi Canós when they could and went long on occasions to try and get him on the ball in attacking areas.
It was Canós who brought early saves out of Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul. His first shot, six minutes in, took a slight deflection and Krul failed to gather but was bailed out by Christoph Zimmermann, who beat Maupay to the loose ball. Krul also saved from Canós later in the half while a clever Henrik Dalsgaard pass set up Brentford’s best chance of the opening quarter. Romaine Sawyers got in behind and found Maupay, he set up Ollie Watkins but the shot from 18 yards was high and wide.
A Max Aarons shot at the other end may have tested Bentley but hit Jordan Rhodes and deflected away and another shot from Alex Tettey was blocked by Chris Mepham. Marco Stiepermann picked up the loose ball but his shot was blocked by Sawyers. Rhodes got in behind the Brentford back line but failed to connect properly with an attempt to lob Bentley and Buendía blasted a Stiepermann cross high and wide after arriving late in to the penalty area.
The first 30 minutes had been fiercely contested but fairly even. Both teams had chances and while Krul had been the busier goalkeeper, Norwich had probably worked the better positions. Brentford were finding it hard to pick the right pass in attacking areas and another good opening came to nothing when a Yoann Barbet shot was blocked after Maupay and Canós had both looked as if they could work space. Tettey at the base of Norwich’s midfield was making it hard to Brentford to create good openings but when the home side went ahead just past the half hour, it was probably against the run of play.
It was also a goal that was far too simple from Brentford’s perspective. Timm Klose was able to loft a ball from the left side of his defence over the Brentford back line for Buendía to come in off the right flank and divert an effort, first time, past Bentley and in to the corner. There was no pressure on the pass, the run was unchecked, and the chance was finished well which meant Brentford had to come from behind again.
It should probably have been worse before the break for The Bees and the game could have been over. After some interplay on the right, a Todd Cantwell backheel gave Rhodes a chance to shoot but his effort dribbled across the face of goal. Zimmermann then lashed well over before Norwich were awarded a penalty in the last action of the half. A clever pass let Jamal Lewis in on the left and his cross was falling for Aarons before the right back came together with Watkins. Referee Oliver Langford pointed to the spot but Bentley went away to his left to keep out a rather week effort from Rhodes and ensure Brentford were only one behind at the interval.
Rhodes went close again after the break, heading an Aarons corner just past the far post, but it was a quiet opening to the second half. Brentford dominated possession after the interval and were playing in Norwich territory but failed to create too many chances. Watkins had a shot blocked at source after picking up a Sawyers pass but too many opportunities to play a good final ball came to nothing.
The Bees rang the changes at the minutes ticked down. They had been forced in to a first half change with Josh McEachran replacing the injured Kamohelo Mokotjo and Saïd Benrahma followed early in the second half. McEachran was starting to dictate play as Brentford found a way to pass through the Norwich midfield and Brentford were higher up the pitch as a result. Benrahma and Lewis Macleod, Brentford’s third substitute, combined to create a chance that should have seen the game levelled.
Benrahma found space in the centre of the pitch and let fly with a shot that Krul saved unconvincingly to his right, Macleod arrived first and got off the next effort that was again saved but the ball rolled free and Maupay met it on the stretch, but he could only hit the crossbar from four yards. Maupay slipped as he tried to connect, and the ball was running away from him, but he would have expected to score and bring Brentford level.
And that was as close as Brentford came. Maupay had another shot blocked later in the game while a looping Mepham header was saved. Watkins almost conjured a goal when he got on to a short corner and weaved in to the box but the powerful Norwich rear-guard stood firm again to keep Brentford out. At the other end Bentley saved from Cantwell and Onel Hernández lashed over to ensure the game was still alive in the dying seconds but Brentford couldn’t find a goal and Norwich took the points.
Norwich City: Krul; Aarons, Klose, Zimmermann, Lewis; Tettey; Buendía (sub Hernández 84 mins), Stiepermann, Leitner (sub Trybull 90 mins), Cantwell; Rhodes (sub Srbeny 79 mins)
Subs (not used): McGovern, Godfrey, Marshall, Vrančić
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Barbet; Mokotjo (sub McEachran 30 mins), Canós (sub Benrahma 57 mins), Yennaris (sub Macleod 71 mins), Sawyers, Watkins; Maupay
Subs (not used): Daniels, Odubajo, Clarke, Judge
Bookings: Dalsgaard (5 mins) (fourth of season)