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Match Reports

Brighton and Hove Albion 2 Brentford 0

Bees beaten by first half goals

26 December 2021

Brentford suffered Boxing Day defeat as they were beaten 2-0 by Brighton and Hove Albion. The Bees started well but conceded two goals late in the first half and could find no way back. They created a series of chances both before the goals and, particularly, in the second half, but were unable to get anything from the contest.

The Bees lost the match in a ten minute period at the end of the first half. Brighton scored their opener in the 35th minute and put Brentford to the sword for the rest of the first half. The 2-0 lead they established proved to be a match-winning one and The Bees were beaten.

It was quite an open start to the contest, with both teams looking to get on the front foot and in to opposition territory. Brighton tried to work the ball in to the final third and allow strikers Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard to link and they had a lot of possession in the first 15 minutes, some of it deep in Brentford territory, without troubling Álvaro Fernández. The better chances in the opening exchanges went the way of Brentford.

An early long throw from Mads Bech caused confusion in the home defence, Ivan Toney won an aerial challenge, but Pontus Jansson was unable to make a firm connection with his shot. A Dominic Thompson pass put Bryan Mbeumo in behind soon after. He lofted a ball over the onrushing Robert Sánchez, but Dan Burn got back to clear inside the six-yard box. The offside flag was raised but the line was tight, and Video Assistant Referee John Brooks would have been called to adjudicate if Mbeumo had found the net.

Shandon Baptiste had a shot blocked when he found space and the Brentford midfield man had a better chance soon after. A corner was half cleared, and Mathias Jensen drilled it back in low, Toney’s shot looped up, Christian Nørgaard won the header and Baptiste was able to shoot from 12 yards. The ball skipped up off the turf and deflected over the crossbar. A different connection from Baptiste may have troubled Sánchez.

Mbeumo headed a cross from Bech off target soon after as Brentford continued to create chances, but Brighton started to have more attacking possession as the half wore on. They were playing with a diamond midfield so had extra men in the centre of the park and their full backs were keen to join in the attack. There were times when the play surged from end to end but neither goalkeeper was forced in to a difficult save in the opening half hour.

Brighton came close when Burn met a corner from the left with a header that deflected and looped up. It hit the top of the crossbar with Fernández back-peddling, but Referee Darren England decided Neal Maupay had fouled the Brentford goalkeeper. The home side also went close on the break when a Trossard cross was recycled, Maupay found Enock Mwepu inside the penalty area, but he smashed a shot in to the side netting.

The hosts were taking control as the game moved towards half time. They swamped Brentford in the centre of the pitch and forced mistakes. Two goals at the end of the first period were probably deserved on the balance of play.

The first, however, came out of nothing, Mwepu was given time to pick a pass in the centre of midfield and lifted a ball in to space behind the Brentford defence. Trossard was able to break the offside trap and run in behind, getting a toe to the ball through and lifting it over Fernández and in to the net.

From then on, Brighton took complete command. They pushed Brentford back and could have put the game completely to bed before the interval. Alexis Mac Allister fired a free kick over the crossbar and then met a half cleared ball, volleying a fraction too high.

The second goal came three minutes before half time when Brighton swarmed forward. Adam Lallana found Jakub Moder on the left, he weaved across the penalty area and set up Maupay to place a shot past Fernández and in to the top corner from the edge of the penalty area. Fernández could only watch as Maupay picked his spot Brighton had breathing space.

Brentford’s difficult end to the first half was compounded by cautions given to Bech and Nørgaard that may have been considered a little unfortunate. Mbeumo was withdrawn, walking uncomfortably, to be replaced by Yoane Wissa and an attempt from Sergi Canós to reduce the deficit flew well wide. Fernández also saved from Mac Allister as Brentford tried to stay in the game and regroup at the interval.

The Bees made a switch at the break, introducing Frank Onyeka to try and change the pattern of the game in midfield. The start of the second period was definitely more even as Brentford battled for a way back in to the game. Brighton also withdrew Trossard at the break and missed his livewire running and unpredictable movement.

Thompson blasted an early chance well wide for The Bees and a looping header from Jansson was saved comfortably by Sánchez. Maupay fired in to the side netting for the hosts and a Moder free kick hit a defensive wall, but Brentford were starting to get the upper hand as the hour mark approached. They were taking a territorial advantage and winning free kicks as Brighton were defending more desperately.

Canós could have halved the arrears when he drove forward from midfield and in to the penalty area, but he fired in to the side netting. The Bees went closer when Toney picked up a loose ball and set Wissa away. The ball back inside found Baptiste in space and the shot wrong-footed Sánchez. Somehow, the goalkeeper recovered to stick out a leg and divert the ball away.

The resulting corner was half cleared and Canós picked it up. The cross found Ethan Pinnock at the far post and his header was set for the corner before Sánchez flung himself across the save. Toney tried to put the loose ball home but was adjudged to be offside.

Mac Allister fizzed a shot narrowly wide at the other end, but Brentford were pressing. A Bech long throw was flicked on, and Sánchez punched away, Pinnock got to the loose ball and nodded it towards goal. It looped over Burn and looked set for the net before Marc Cucurella made a remarkable clearance inches from his own line.

Lallana shot over for the home side and Fernández saved a Danny Welbeck shot. The Brentford goalkeeper also went full stretch to push out a Steven Alzate shot. Pascal Groß blasted wide for Brighton, but the home side were mostly on the back foot in the later stages with Brentford pushing forward from midfield, with Baptiste and Nørgaard driving on.

Toney saw a shot blocked for The Bees before Nørgaard and Saman Ghoddos helped to open Brighton up. Baptiste had space to shoot from the edge of the penalty area but slipped as he did, and Sánchez was able to make a comfortable save. Canós fired in to a crowd of bodies after being freed by Toney inside the area and a Wissa shot whizzed just wide. Brentford continued to push for a goal, that may have given them a way back in to the game, but it would not come, and Brighton took the win.

Brighton and Hove Albion: Sánchez; Lamptey, Webster, Burn, Cucurella; Lallana (sub Groß 84 mins); Mwepu, Moder, Mac Allister (sub Alzate 84 mins); Maupay, Trossard (sub Welbeck h/t)

Subs (not used): Scherpen, March, Richards, Leonard, Turns, Ferguson

Bookings: Webster (59 mins)

Brentford: Fernández; Pinnock, Jansson, Bech; Canós, Baptiste, Nørgaard, Jensen (sub Onyeka h/t), Thompson (sub Ghoddos 61 mins); Toney, Mbeumo (sub Wissa 40 mins)

Subs (not used): Cox, Stevens, Bidstrup, Peart-Harris, Forss

Bookings: Bech (38 mins), Nørgaard (45 mins), Toney (77 mins)


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