Brentford recorded a victory over promotion-chasing Leeds United thanks to goals from Neal Maupay and Sergi Canós. The Bees weathered a couple of storms from the visitors, who needed the win as they chase automatic promotion, but scored at the end of the first half and then just past the hour mark to take the win. With Leeds unable to turn attacking possession in to goals, Brentford had a clean sheet to go with their three points on a warm Easter Monday early evening.
And given their performance over the 90 minutes, The Bees deserved the points. Both teams had chances in the first half before Maupay scored late in the opening 45 to give the home team the lead at the break. Leeds dominated the early stages of the second period but Canós struck the crucial second goal and there was no way back for the visitors.
Leeds should probably have been ahead inside the first five minutes with two good openings. The first was fired wide on the turn by Patrick Bamford from 12 yards after good work on the right. And the second was a better one. A heavy touch by Julian Jeanvier allowed Pontus Jansson to make a tackle that was very firm but did win the ball, Bamford’s flick put Tyler Roberts away with only Luke Daniels to beat but his touch was heavy and the Brentford goalkeeper rushed out to save.
Leeds started very brightly and it took Brentford a few minutes to establish any sort of possession. Once they did, they were able to get Maupay in to the game, dropping off the front, and his link up with Romaine Sawyers and Kamohelo Mokotjo gave The Bees a chance to play in Leeds territory. Canós was pulling in to space in the inside left channel and he looked the most likely source of inspiration for The Bees.
Canós lashed well over after turning well and then saw a shot blocked after some nice interplay in the final third. Canós then saw another shot blocked after he picked up a Maupay lay-off. And when the ball was then recycled, a clever touch from Ollie Watkins put Maupay in to space, when he was quickly closed down, Canós let fly with a snap shot that fizzed off target.
Leeds had been making mistakes in the opening exchanges. They had tried to stop Brentford playing out but had given the ball away in their own half enough to allow The Bees to build some momentum and longer passes in attacking areas often was astray. Their cause had not been helped as Ezgjan Alioski had to be replaced at left back by Stuart Dallas after picking up an early injury and The Bees looked to exploit the indecision.
But Brentford’s good spell did not last long. By the time the game reached the half hour a pattern was beginning to be established. Both teams wanted to try and play through from front to back but were happy to play longer if needed. However, the work rate all over the pitch forced mistakes and no team could take complete control.
Leeds may have done so if another couple of good chances had not gone to waste. One came when a poor Jeanvier pass allowed Jansson to rob Maupay, Roberts found Bamford and rather than shooting first time from 18 yards with only Daniels to beat, he dithered and allowed a challenge to come in. That tackle, from Jeanvier, was adjudged to be fair by referee Keith Stroud when, on first glance, it did not look like he had got much of the ball. But if Bamford had shot earlier, the point would have been moot.
Adam Forshaw then saw a shot deflect wide from a half-cleared corner and Dallas lofted another well over when Brentford got a dead ball away. Jack Harrison saw a shot blocked before it was Brentford’s turn to put together a spell of attacking play. Watkins flicked a Mokotjo pass in to the path of Maupay and he looked as if he was in on goal only for Liam Cooper to make a recovery block. A superb run down the left from Canós, which saw him leave Luke Ayling in his wake before weaving inside Jansson, enabled him to set up Rico Henry for a shot that deflected just over.
The livewire Canós cut inside off the right and curl in a left footed shot that looked set for the top corner before Kiko Casilla stuck out an arm to divert it away. The goalkeeper was full stretch to his left and kept his team level, albeit it only delayed the arrival of that opening goal. Bamford had a shot blocked at the other end and Mateusz Klich lashed wide before Brentford took the lead moments before the interval.
There was no surprised that Canós was involved, as he had been at the centre of most of Brentford’s best attacking moves. This time a clever turn in midfield created the space for him to play a ball between the Leeds central defenders, Maupay strode on to it and toe poked it past the onrushing Casilla to put Brentford ahead. The pass, run and finish were all out of the top drawer and with the strike coming in before Casilla was set, Maupay had his 27th goal of the season.
That lead should probably have only lasted a matter of seconds. When Jeanvier smashed a clearance against Mads Bech Sørensen, it allowed Roberts to run in to the inside right channel and he should have done better than pull a shot across Daniels and wide of the far post. It meant Brentford ended an enthralling half with the lead but well aware that there would be more to come from the visitors.
And Leeds started the second half every bit as quickly as Brentford would have been expecting. They moved the ball a fraction quicker than they did in the opening 45 minutes, held a high starting position and chased every Brentford man in the early stages of the second period. They also had chances to level the game.
Daniels had to make an early save to tip a Dallas shot over after a break from deep and from the third phase of the resulting corner, Pablo Hernández curled over from 15 yards. It was a good chance for the Leeds man with Brentford failing to clear but the number of bodies between him and the goal proved too much. When the visitors then crowded Brentford out in midfield and Klich found Bamford on the edge of the penalty area, the shot was again off target.
The visitors had complete control of the start of the second period. Hernández was dropping in to spaces to link up the play and the work rate of Leeds players all over the pitch meant Brentford were battling to put together spells of possession and fighting to keep their lead. A superb Hernández pass put Roberts away on the right and a drilled cross-cum-shot was palmed away by Daniels, Bamford was unable to force home the loose ball. Klich then wasted a good opening by firing wide from distance.
And the inability of Leeds to turn their domination in to an equaliser came back to haunt them as Brentford struck. Jeanvier won possession and Sawyers fed Watkins, he burst through a tackle from Jansson on the left and fed Maupay, who put a pass through to Canós and he toe-poked the ball past Casilla and in to the net. Canós had no right to score, being in the middle of three Leeds players, including the goalkeeper, but his determination to add a goal to a fine performance saw him force the ball in and give Brentford breathing space.
Leeds had already strengthened their attacking options by introducing Kemar Roofe and they went for broke, replacing centre half Jansson with winger Jack Clarke. Hernández shot well over when a cross was half cleared and a clever Clarke cut back set up a shooting chance for Klich, but Daniels saved well low down. Moses Odubajo also blocked a Dallas shot as Leeds tried to press on.
But with the visitors chasing goals, the game was more open and Brentford had chances to make the game totally safe. A barnstorming run down the right from Ezri Konsa, bursting through a series of tackles, gave him a chance to pick out Watkins with a cross, the Brentford man seemed to be fouled but nothing was given, Canós had a shot blocked and Maupay then acrobatically lifted an effort just over. The moment of the match should have come seconds later when Jeanvier won the ball in his own penalty area and a pirouette from Sawyers gave him the space to put Canós away, he ran in to the box, past Cooper and tried to round Casilla but the goalkeeper got a touch, the ball ran away and the chance had gone. It should have been a goal to savour.
Cooper had a header from a Hernández corner deflect wide and Watkins was then booked by Mr Stroud at the other end when he went over under a challenge from Ayling. The official deciding that an act of simulation had been committed rather than a foul. Given Watkins also had reasonable claims for a penalty earlier, he felt particularly hard done by.
Leeds kept pushing in the later stages but were unable to create much headway. Crosses were repelled by Brentford’s exceptional back three and Daniels marshalled his defence superbly. Bamford saw a shot blocked after Harrison had found space for just about the first time and, at the other end, Maupay went ambitiously for goal and hit a defender rather than picking out Emiliano Marcondes. But 3-0 would probably have flattered Brentford. Their 2-0 win was well deserved and did nothing for Leeds, who sit third in the table with two games to go.
Brentford: Daniels; Konsa, Jeanvier, Sørensen; Odubajo, Sawyers, Mokotjo, Henry; Watkins (sub Dasilva 87 mins), Maupay, Canós (sub Marcondes 81 mins)
Subs (not used): Gunnarsson, Racic, Oksanen, Ogbene, Forss
Bookings: Maupay (73 mins) (ninth of season), Konsa (76 mins), (fifth of season) Watkins (79 mins) (fifth of season)
Leeds United: Casilla; Ayling, Jansson (sub Clarke 64 mins), Cooper, Alioski (sub Dallas 12 mins); Klich, Forshaw; Hernández, Roberts (sub Roofe 58 mins), Harrison; Bamford
Subs (not used): Peacock-Farrell, Phillips, Berardi, Shackleton
Bookings: Klich (78 mins)
Attendance: 11,580 (1,626 away fans)