Ollie Watkins scored the winner as Brentford picked up a third straight home win. Bryan Mbeumo scored the first and then set up Watkins for the second as Cardiff City were beaten at Griffin Park, following in the footsteps of Luton Town and Reading in recent weeks. The visitors pulled one back with around half an hour to play but The Bees did enough to get over the line.
And it was three points, and a 2-1 win, the hosts deserved overall. Brentford dominated most of the first half and deserved the lead secured by Mbeumo’s seventh goal of the season and third in his last three games. Cardiff had their moments, but Watkins headed in early in the second half to give Brentford a lead they did not relinquish. The visitors will probably feel they failed to create enough clear-cut close-range openings to earn a point.
Brentford started the game at a tremendous pace. They went on the attack from the first whistle, could have scored within 15 seconds and took complete control of the contest. They dominated the central areas of the pitch while Saïd Benrahma showcased some of his prodigious talent as he tricked and tormented the Cardiff defence. But the visitors held firm early on.
Benrahma went on a mazy dribble from the kick-off and when Cardiff failed to clear the ball dropped back to him. He found a yard of space and hit a shot that beat Neil Etheridge but skimmed just past the post. Benrahma also fired a free kick in to a defensive wall before leading a move that ended with Mbeumo cutting inside and letting fly with a shot that was blocked by Curtis Nelson.
When Brentford took the lead 25 minutes in, it came when Cardiff had started to find a foothold in the game. Lee Tomlin was dropping a fraction deeper to pick up possession and wingers Junior Hoilett and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing were getting involved in the game. Hoilett set up a chance for Tomlin and his shot from the edge of the penalty area deflected inches wide. But Hoilett was hurt soon after and had to be replaced by Josh Murphy.
Tomlin tried to score from 50 yards but failed to trouble David Raya and Leandro Bacuna lashed over from a little closer. The Bees should have gone in front when Pontus Jansson, Watkins and Josh Dasilva combined to put Mathias Jensen through on goal. Although Nelson was chasing back, Jensen had only Etheridge to beat but fired straight at him from 18 yards rather than going on in to the penalty area.
That miss proved less pivotal when Brentford scored 70 seconds later. Mendez-Laing was robbed as he tried to attack and then stood and watched as Brentford rushed forward. Benrahma turned away from Marlon Pack and slipped a ball through to Mbeumo, his low shot had enough power to beat Etheridge and nestle in the corner despite the Cardiff goalkeeper getting a hand to it.
Brentford deserved to lead at that point, but Cardiff were in the contest and responded well. Tomlin was to the fore as they pressed forward, and he had a shot blocked after a nice turn 20 yards out. Cardiff’s energy out of possession was starting to test Brentford and while the visitors did not have a lot of the ball, they were getting men in to forward positions. A Nelson header from a corner deflected wide and the next delivery dropped to Murphy on the edge of the penalty area, but he nodded straight at Raya.
As half time approached, it was Brentford that regained the initiative. Christian Nørgaard was patrolling central areas and The Bees were able to turn possession over to good effect. Jansson met a deep corner and nodded it across the face of goal before a quick break enabled Benrahma to shoot from 20 yards, Etheridge saved low and pushed the ball out where Watkins was lurking, but Nelson again blocked. Henrik Dalsgaard then headed a corner wide as The Bees went in with the lead and the initiative but not complete control.
But within seconds of the restart, Brentford had a second goal and that measure of control. Once again, The Bees flew out of the blocked. Dasilva tried to turn a pass from Benrahma in to a one-two that would have given the Algerian attacker a sight of goal but instead a tackle was made, and the ball went behind for a corner. That was taken short and Jensen’s delivery was eventually played deep, it was recycled by Mbeumo and his cross was glanced home by Watkins. The header was inch perfect in to the far corner and Watkins celebrated his 13th goal of the season while Etheridge berated his defenders.
Cardiff were caught cold at the start of the second half and Brentford moved through the gears. Etheridge went away to his left to save a Benrahma shot and Dasilva curled an effort over from just outside the penalty area. Dalsgaard, Benrahma and Jensen were then involved in a counter attack but Mbeumo shot over from 22 yards with options to his left.
Rico Henry fired a Jensen cross in to the side netting but Cardiff had regrouped and were starting to respond. Raya got down well to save a low shot from Murphy when a corner was half cleared, and the same men then cut inside and curled a shot just past the far post. The visitors got one back just past the hour mark after winning a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Tomlin shaped to shoot but fed it across the box and Pack let fly from 20 yards, rifling an effort past Raya and in to the net.
Cardiff had introduced Gary Madine a few moments earlier and dropped Tomlin a little deeper. He was getting on the ball more and Brentford were being pressed back, finding it harder to play through and unable to hold the ball in attacking areas. Danny Ward could have equalised when The Bees failed to clear a corner, but his lashed effort flew wide from ten yards rather than hitting the top corner. Raya then got down well to save a Tomlin effort.
Mbeumo had a shot blocked and then, after picking up a Dasilva pass, lofted an effort that might have drifted in to the far corner had Aden Flint not headed it over his own crossbar. The resulting corner dropped to Kamohelo Mokotjo on the edge of the penalty area and his fierce effort flew over the bar. Benrahma then curled a free kick in to a defensive wall as Brentford looked to make the game safe.
There were late chances for Cardiff, but Brentford were equal to them. Raya tipped a long-range effort from Tomlin over and Nelson headed wide. Ethan Pinnock almost presented Callum Paterson with a goal with an under hit back pass but Raya rushed out and made the tackle, albeit only just. With that chance gone and Brentford repelling the long throws, corners and long balls Cardiff threw in to the box, The Bees had the win.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry; Dasilva, Nørgaard (sub Mokotjo 73 mins), Jensen; Mbeumo (sub Jeanvier 84 mins), Watkins, Benrahma
Subs (not used): Daniels, Thompson, Sørensen, Roerslev, Hammar
Bookings: Jansson (77 mins) (third of season), Henry (80 mins) (fourth of season)
Cardiff City: Etheridge; Peltier, Flint, Nelson, Bennett; Mendez-Laing (sub Madine 61 mins), Pack, Bacuna, Hoilett (sub Murphy 22 mins); Tomlin, Ward (sub Paterson 81 mins)
Subs (not used): Day, Morrison, Vaulks, Ralls
Bookings: Murphy (70 mins), Bennett (83 mins)
Attendance: 10,417 (1,119 away fans)