Eddie Nketiah’s late goal consigned Brentford to a narrow defeat at Leeds United.
Despite a battling performance from Thomas Frank’s Bees – who defended impressively for long spells – United’s second-half substitutes Hélder Costa and Nketiah combined on 81 minutes to deliver the decisive blow.
Frank made one change to the side that drew 1-1 with Hull City last time out; Ethan Pinnock, an enforced withdrawal during the second half against Middlesbrough earlier this month, was deemed fit enough to return to the Bees’ backline. Alongside the former Barnsley man was fellow summer signing Pontus Jansson, who was making his first return to Elland Road following his switch to Griffin Park in July. The Sweden international netted in this exact fixture last season, equalising late on to secure a 1-1 draw for Leeds.
It was Brentford who started the brighter under the Elland Road floodlights. On ten minutes, Ollie Watkins’ deft touch freed Sergi Canós to run at goal but the Spaniard’s effort from the edge of the area was too tame to trouble Kiko Casilla.
Following a tightly contested opening, midfield endeavour led to goalmouth action midway through the first half. With 23 minutes on the clock, Mathias Jensen fed Brian Mbeumo on the break. The Frenchman drifted in from the right, shifted on to his left and smashed a 25-yarder back off the inside of the post with Casilla beaten.
The hosts responded with a flurry of chances of their own. Mateusz Klich’s left-footed effort from the centre of the area was comfortably saved by David Raya on 24 minutes. Patrick Bamford then got in on the act, first nodding Ezgjan Alioski’s floated cross just over the crossbar. The former Middlesbrough man went close again two minutes later, rising well to connect with another Alioski cross but only finding the side-netting with Raya in no man’s land.
Despite Leeds enjoying the lion’s share of possession, The Bees had shown some promise on the counter-attack during a delicately poised first period.
The pattern of play continued unabated after the break; Brentford content to soak up Leeds’ jabs while looking to utilise the pace of Watkins and Mbeumo on the break to deliver the knockout blow. Marshalled by Messrs Pinnock, Jansson and Jeanvier, The Bees were standing firm despite a barrage of balls into the box from wide areas.
Following claims for a Leeds penalty after the ball struck Jeanvier in the box, a quick Bees counter-attack was concluded by Watkins flashing an effort across the face of goal and narrowly wide of the post.
Brought on in place of Pablo Hernández on 77 minutes, Arsenal loanee Nketiah made his presence felt four minutes after taking to the pitch. The fresh legs of fellow second-half substitute Costa proved too much for Pinnock as the winger advanced into the area and rolled across the six-yard box for Nketiah to apply the simplest of finishes.
Saïd Benrahma could have snatched a point for Brentford deep into stoppage time but, having been found deep in Leeds territory with a long throw, ballooned his effort over the crossbar and into the fans behind the goal.
Leeds United: Casilla; Dallas (Berardi 78), White, Cooper, Alioski; Phillips; Hernández (Nketiah 77), Forshaw, Klich, Harrison (Costa 65); Bamford
Subs not used: Meslier, McCammon, Bogusz, Shackleton
Bookings: Alioski 35, Dallas 63
Brentford: Raya; Jeanvier, Jansson, Pinnock (Marcondes 89); Dalsgaard, Nørgaard, Jensen, Henry; Mbeumo (Dasilva 67), Canós (Benrahma 78), Watkins
Subs not used: Daniels, Thompson, Forss, Racic
Bookings: Nørgaard 39
Attendance: 35,004 (408 away)