Brentford recovered from conceding a goal inside 30 seconds to beat Stoke City. The game had barely begun when the visitors went ahead, and they held that lead towards the hour mark. But Vitaly Janelt smashed in an equaliser before Ivan Toney grabbed his 25th of the season to complete the comeback and give The Bees a 2-1 win.
It was probably a win that Brentford just about deserved over the course of the 90 minutes. Stoke had the better of a first half of few chances but The Bees ended it with the upper hand and took control after the break. They scored two very good goals and created other chances while defending well at the other end and doing enough to take the points.
The game could barely have started in worse fashion for The Bees, conceding inside the first 30 seconds. Brentford had possession in their own penalty area when David Raya tried to play the ball to his left to Mads Bech Sørensen. Tommy Smith intercepted the pass and as Raya rushed out to try and make good on his error, the ball was squared to Jacob Brown to tap home.
Stoke had kicked off but had barely touched the ball before they scored and the first possession for any Brentford attacking player was kicking off a goal down. The early goal affected the pattern of the game. Stoke sensed they could win the ball in Brentford territory and worked hard out of possession to try and force mistakes. Brentford had most of the ball in the first period but mostly played in front of Stoke and had few good chances.
When Toney picked up a loose ball, he exchanged passes with Tariqe Fosu, but the eventual shot lacked power and was blocked. Saman Ghoddos pulled a shot wide when he found space 22 yards from goal and Fosu missed his kick when a Sørensen long throw dropped to him on the edge of the penalty area. Ghoddos also diverted a Henrik Dalsgaard cross wide later in the half.
Stoke were mostly content to paly the game without the ball but could have doubled their lead from a set piece. The ball was played to the left side of the Brentford penalty area and Harry Souttar won the aerial challenge, James Chester got a touch to it and Nick Powell looked set to score before Raya smothered the shot. The ball dropped loose but Brown could not force it in.
The best Brentford chance in the first half came from a corner on the right from Ghoddos, who looked the most likely to create something for The Bees. He delivered a ball on to the head of Winston Reid 12 yards out, but he could not get over the ball and his effort flew too high. Brentford ended the half on the front foot but went in at the break behind and without forcing Stoke goalkeeper Angus Gunn in to a save.
The Bees could, however, have been level seconds after the interval. A clever pass from Toney put Bryan Mbeumo away in the inside left channel and he darted away from the defence, he cut the ball back behind Fosu but in to the path of the arriving Josh Dasilva. Unfortunately for Brentford, the shot from Dasilva clipped the heels of Fosu and was diverted away from goal.
Josh Tymon had a shot blocked for the visitors before a deep free kick caused Brentford difficulty. Souttar won the first header, which was blocked, and then looped the next wide of the far post. But Brentford were much improved after the break. They were playing with a higher intensity, were more combative in the challenge in midfield and the game was taking place in Stoke territory.
Brentford equalised 11 minutes after the restart with a fine goal, and one that was coming. The Bees attacked on the right and Fosu challenged for the ball just inside the penalty area. It broke to Janelt and he took a touch, steadied himself and smashed a shot in to the top corner from 22 yards. Gunn was left absolutely helpless as the ball ripped past him in to the next and The Bees were level.
There was a chance for Powell straight after the goal as a cross dropped to him on the left side of the penalty area, he tried to swivel and volley in from a tight angle, but fired over the crossbar. It was The Bees, however, that had the initiative. Stoke were being pulled across the pitch as Brentford moved the ball quickly, ran powerfully and switched the play to great effect.
Dasilva got on to a Toney pass on the right and darted in to the penalty area before cutting the ball back but the shot from Fosu flew over the crossbar. Toney then had a deflected shot saved after good work by the increasingly impressive Ghoddos before substitutes Mathias Jensen and Sergi Canós combined on a breakaway. Canós was inside the area on the left but was unable to either shoot in to the far corner or find Toney for the tap in and the chance was gone.
Ghoddos had a pair of shots blocked after a Sørensen long throw dropped to him before he won a challenge in Stoke territory and let fly with a superb shot that Gunn had to tip acrobatically over the crossbar. Mbeumo then blasted a free kick over the crossbar from a narrow angle as Brentford pressed. Jensen released Dalsgaard in to space on the right with a great pass that looked set to create a goal for Ghoddos, but his shot was deflected over the crossbar.
The game’s defining moments came inside the final 15 minutes. Stoke had a couple of great chances to take the lead that they did not take. And when Brentford got their opening with 11 minutes left on the clock, it fell to Toney and he made it count.
Stoke went close when a cross bounced up to Jordan Cousins at the far post. He looped a header over David Raya, but a combination of Reid and the crossbar stopped it crossing the line. Janelt then got back to head away as Brown lurked. The visitors broke away seconds later and Cousins headed down to Powell, he swivelled inside the penalty area and let fly but blasted high and wide.
Brentford were not so profligate at the other end. After a spell of possession, Dalsgaard chipped a ball forward on the right and Mbeumo rose brilliantly to flick it on. Toney got on to the dropping ball and steered a shot first time across Gunn and in to the far corner. A 1-0 deficit had become a 2-1 lead with ten minutes remaining thanks to two brilliant finished and Stoke now had to fight back.
The visitors tried to press on but struggled to switch from their defensive outlook to try and chase the game. Powell had a late chance when a free kick was half cleared but he lashed it well over. Brentford continued to play, continued to push on and looked for a goal that would have sealed it.
Toney lashed over the crossbar after getting on to a Mbeumo lay off. Mbeumo then darted in to space on the left and found Toney with a cross, but the Brentford striker could not force it in. Dalsgaard found Toney with another cross soon after, but he couldn’t direct the header and Mbeumo had a late shot blocked. With Stoke running out of ideas and, eventually, out of time, Brentford had done enough to take the win.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Reid, Pinnock, Sørensen; Dasilva (sub Jensen 59 mins), Janelt (sub Nørgaard 77 mins), Ghoddos (sub Marcondes 86 mins); Fosu (sub Canós 59 mins), Toney, Mbeumo
Subs (not used): Daniels, Bidstrup, Roerslev, Forss, Žambůrek
Bookings: Dasilva (18 mins) (second of season)
Stoke City: Gunn; Souttar, Batth, Chester (sub Clarke 83 mins); Smith, Allen, Mikel, Thompson (sub Cousins h/t), Norrington-Davies (sub Tymon h/t); Powell, Brown (sub Vokes 83 mins)
Subs (not used): Davies, Oakley-Boothe, Forrester, Coates, Norton
Bookings: Thompson (25 mins), Norrington-Davies (34 mins), Allen (68 mins)