Brentford continued their unbeaten start to the 2021/22 Premier League season with a draw against Aston Vila. The Bees took an early lead when Ivan Toney got his first goal of the season, but Villa struck back. Emiliano Buendía equalised for the home side and 1-1 was how it finished.
Brentford probably shaded it overall but both teams had chances to score the crucial third goal. Vitaly Janelt had the ball in the net but was adjudged to have impeded Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez. David Raya had some saves to make but The Bees had the better of the second period and looked the most likely winner.
The match burst to life almost from kick-off. Both sides looked to get on the front foot and have their attacking players involved in the game early on. Villa looked mostly to Anwar El Ghazi on their left, in the space behind Brentford right wing back Sergi Canós and the home side had a little more of the ball in an opening quarter of the contest that saw the two goals and could have seen more.
It was Brentford that took the lead inside the first seven minutes. The goal came from a corner on the Brentford left that was cleared as far as Canós. The wing back took a touch and drilled the ball in low, a flick from Pontus Jansson diverted it to Toney and he placed a shot past Martínez and in to the top corner. Toney was able to measure a shot to perfection and Martínez had no chance.
The Bees had sight of goal earlier when a long throw was half cleared and Saman Ghoddos had a shot blocked. When Ghoddos won possession in Villa territory just after Toney’s strike, he could have created a second goal. Toney was able to run at the defence and had a shot blocked, when a pass to Bryan Mbeumo may have been a better option.
Brentford’s work off the ball in the early stages was causing the hosts problems. They were struggling to build from the back and through midfield and instead went long, to great effect. Danny Ings was able to run in to the inside left channel and hold play up. He played a one two with El Ghazi and picked out Buendía, joining the play. Buendía had the time to turn in to space and let fly with a shot that ripped in to the net. Buendía had too much time and space for Brentford’s liking and although Raya got a hand to his shot, he could not keep it out.
Set pieces were proving to be a key part of the game with both teams taking the time to prepare for dead balls and deliver them well. Ezri Konsa flicked on a Buendía corner, and it took a vital clearance inside the six-yard box to stop a second Villa goal. Christian Nørgaard almost got on to a long throw at the other end but Axel Tuanzebe got there just in time to prevent the Brentford man scoring from close range.
Mbeumo got on to a Ghoddos pass but was denied by Martínez, albeit an offside flag may have been up. There was a better save from Raya at the other end. El Ghazi teased his way down the left and got in a cross that Tuanzebe and Konsa challenged for, it dropped to Ings, but his shot was excellently blocked at point-blank range by Raya.
The pace of the game did not let up as half time approached. It remained a very even contest with both teams having chances and looking to attack. And although the first period ended all square, it probably shouldn’t have done.
Raya saved a Tuanzebe header from another good Buendía set piece, but it was Brentford who should have gone in ahead. They had a goal disallowed by referee Peter Bankes, after a check with video assistant referee Lee Mason, when Vitaly Janelt nipped the ball off Martínez when he tried to clear and rolled it home. The officials decided Janelt had prevented Martínez completing a clearance and an offence had been committed.
The better chance for The Bees fell to Rico Henry. Janelt and Toney battled for the ball in Villa territory and the former stepped in to space. He found Henry overlapping on the left and with a sight of goal. Henry cut across the ball a fraction and faded a shot past the far post when he would have expected to hit the target.
The pace of the game did drop a fraction after the break and Brentford were more measured in possession. The Bees started to dominate the ball with Villa forced back and playing on the counter-attack. The game was more stop-start after the interval, with more fouls awarded by Mr Bankes and four cautions in 11 minutes as the free kick count mounted.
There were few chances at the start of the second period, but the ones that came, went to Brentford. Mbeumo made the most of some dithering by Matty Cash and got in to the penalty area. Cash appeared to handle the ball, but Mbeumo was allowed to go on and pulled a shot across the face of goal.
A run from Canós set up another attacking opportunity, as he spread the play to Henry on the opposite flank. The ball fell to Ghoddos inside the penalty area, but his shot was blocked. Canós also had a shot blocked after a run from deep.
Both teams made changes in the later stages as they looked for the winner. Brentford introduced Yoane Wissa and gave Premier League debuts to Mathias Jensen and Shandon Baptiste, back from injury. Villa brought former Brentford striker Ollie Watkins on to the pitch and both sides mixed up their formations in the later stages as they looked for a winner.
El Ghazi fired over after cutting inside and Ethan Pinnock looked set to meet a Jensen corner but was unable to get enough power on it. Canós had another shot blocked after being set up by Toney and Jensen, but the last chances went to Watkins. He failed to get enough power on a far post header to beat Raya before leading a breakaway. Brentford got bodies back to hold it up and when the shot eventually came in, Raya saved, and ensured the game finished level.
Aston Villa: Martínez; Cash, Konsa (sub Hause 89 mins), Tuanzebe, Targett; Douglas Luiz; Buendía, Chukwuemeka (sub Nakamba 63 mins), Young (sub Watkins 79 mins), El Ghazi; Ings
Subs (not used): Steer, Hourihane, Guilbert, Philogene-Bidace, Archer, Ramsey
Bookings: El Ghazi (50 mins), Cash (61 mins), Ings (72 mins)
Brentford: Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Canós, Nørgaard, Ghoddos (sub Wissa 66 mins), Janelt (sub Baptiste 89 mins), Henry; Toney, Mbeumo (sub Jensen 80 mins)
Subs (not used): Fernández, Stevens, Thompson, Bidstrup, Forss, Dervişoğlu
Bookings: Toney (52 mins), Nørgaard (60 mins), Janelt (75 mins)