A goal in each half handed Brentford defeat against Premier League Watford in a behind closed doors friendly. On a warm but windy early afternoon in Hertfordshire, Brentford were competitive throughout but were beaten as Étienne Capoue scored from long range in the first half and Ismaïla Sarr notched from much closer in at the end of the game. Those goals settled the game in favour of the home side with both teams a week away from the resumption of the 2019/20 season after the break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
An even first half was only really notable for the goal from Capoue. It came just past the half hour and would have graced any game anywhere. Watford broke quickly after a Brentford attack faltered but appeared to have run out of steam thanks to the tracking back of Josh Dasilva. But the ball broke to Capoue 30 yards out and he rifled a shot past David Raya and in to the net. The shot was unstoppable and while Brentford will lament the space he had, once it left his boot, there was little anyone could do.
That aside, neither goalkeeper was overly worried in the opening 45 minutes. Raya made one save, from Ignacio Pussetto after a Will Hughes shot had been blocked, and there were other efforts, but none on target. The game was largely played in the centre of the field. Christian Nørgaard saw a lot of the ball in the early stages as Brentford held the upper hand but it was Capoue and Hughes that controlled most of the half for Watford.
There was early space for Bryan Mbeumo for The Bees, but he lashed over and Ollie Watkins fired across the face of goal after a quick free kick soon after. Dasilva had a shot blocked after working space late in the half and Pontus Jansson headed a corner over after finding room in the penalty area. Hughes and Danny Welbeck shot wide for the home side and Capoue had another shot blocked in an even first period that only produced one goal and didn’t really threaten more.
Brentford should, however, have equalised just after the break. Mathias Jensen worked space on the right and chipped a ball over the defence that was perfect for the run of Mbeumo. The attacker met it on the volley, but his contact was poor, and the chance was gone. That was the only real opening in the early stages of the second half. Watford made nine changes before the hour mark and while Brentford had more of the ball and more in attacking areas, they were unable to breach the home defence.
Henrik Dalsgaard had a shot blocked for The Bees and João Pedro cut in off the left before blasting wide for the home side. Watford should have doubled their lead when a Pedro pass but Sarr in behind the Brentford defence, he advanced on Raya, but the goalkeeper kept the effort out and Dalsgaard ensured no home player could finish off. It also ensured there was just one goal in the game as it entered the final moments. And Brentford ended the game strongly.
Some fresh legs in the later stages gave The Bees a new impetus and the majority of the final 15 minutes was played in Watford territory. Brentford were on the front foot, playing behind Watford’s midfield and creating openings. Tariqe Fosu blasted wide and Shandon Baptiste had an effort blocked. Baptiste then delivered a ball from the right that was met by the arriving Saïd Benrahma, but he lifted an effort over.
The Bees could have levelled with two minutes to go after a superb move. Nørgaard won the ball in midfield and it was worked from Dominic Thompson to Luka Racic and then on to Dalsgaard and Fosu. Baptiste was able to get a cross in from the right and Emiliano Marcondes arrived but was unable to get enough on it to put it in. And with Brentford’s last chance gone, Watford struck again. A cross came in from the left and Rico Henry attempted to chest it back to Raya, but he didn’t get enough on it, Sarr snuck in, poked it home and gave him team a 2-0 win.
Watford: Foster (sub Gomes h/t); Femenía (sub Chalobah h/t), Kabasele (sub Dele-Bashiru 73 mins), Dawson (sub Mariappa h/t), Holebas (sub Phillips h/t); Capoue (sub Doucouré h/t), Hughes (sub Pedro 60 mins); Pussetto, Cleverley (sub Quina h/t), Welbeck (sub Deeney 60 mins); Gray (sub Sarr h/t)
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson (sub Racic 80 mins), Pinnock (sub Thompson 88 mins), Henry; Dasilva (sub Baptiste 73 mins), Nørgaard, Jensen (sub Marcondes 80 mins); Mbeumo (sub Fosu 73 mins), Watkins, Benrahma