Brentford’s time in the Emirates FA Cup was ended by Leicester City at the Fourth Round stage for the second season in a row. Last year the Premier League side won 1-0 at Griffin Park with an early goal but this year it was The Bees that went ahead through Mads Bech Sørensen. But Leicester responded, scored twice early in the second half and took a 3-1 win.
There was little doubt the Premier League side deserved to progress, but The Bees had a half time lead and looked like they might be able to take the win. But Leicester responded superbly after the interval. A one-goal deficit had been turned in to a lead within six minutes and there was no way back for Brentford.
It was one-way traffic in the opening quarter of the contest as Leicester completely dominated. Their extra experience told as they had control of the midfield and attacked from all areas. They spent most of the opening 20 minutes inside the Brentford half, but it was The Bees who scored the opening goal seven minutes in.
The goal came from a corner on the right hand side. Vitaly Janelt delivered it towards the near post where Marcus Forss challenged for it. His header hit Nampalys Mendy inside the six-yard box and dropped to Sørensen to poke home from close range. The defender’s first goal for The Bees gave them the lead against the early run of play but did not alter the flow of the contest.
Leicester started very brightly. Their movement in attacking areas tested Brentford defensively and they looked to get the ball wide, especially to Cengiz Ünder, playing on the right. He tried to run at Fin Stevens, playing at left back for The Bees in only his third professional game, and created openings for the visitors. He delivered a cross for Ayoze Pérez to fire wide from 22 yards before he then got away from Stevens and lashed in a shot at the near post that Luke Daniels got down well to save.
When The Bees scored a couple of moments later it was unexpected, but Leicester responded well and continued to attack. A James Maddison pass put Pérez in on goal again, but Ethan Pinnock made a block. Luke Thomas then got away from Sergi Canós and Jan Žambůrek and fed Harvey Barnes on the left, he weaved past Mads Roerslev and let fly with a shot that flicked Janelt and wrong-footed Daniels, but Pinnock was able to clear.
Youri Tielemans shot wide for the visitors and Maddison then flicked the side netting with a free kick from distance as Brentford got to the half hour with the lead. And the game was much more even as half time approached. Janelt was making an impact in the centre of midfield, stopping Leicester building real forward moment while Žambůrek and Saman Ghoddos were moving The Bees up the pitch. Stevens and Roerslev were preventing Leicester’s wide players driving up the pitch with the ball and it was Brentford that were creating chances.
There was a good opening for Tariqe Fosu when he met a deep Janelt corner with a shot that Danny Ward tipped around the post. Žambůrek then tried to dribble through on the edge of the penalty area and had a shot that deflected wide. Ghoddos then curled a free kick just over the bar.
The Bees arguably ended the first half with the initiative and could have been two up just before the interval. Ghoddos was the man to go close again with a free kick that Ward had to tip over at full stretch. And that save proved to be important as Leicester equalised seconds after the interval. Ghoddos was tackled in midfield by Çağlar Söyüncü and Maddison was released in space, he dribbled through and fed Ünder, who placed a shot past Daniels and in to the net.
The visitors won the ball back and quickly punished Brentford to level it up, the first of two goals in six minutes at the start of the second period. The second goal was a penalty won and converted by Tielemans. The visitors played a corner short and Maddison fed Tielemans inside the penalty area. The midfield player went down as Fosu chased back and referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty, albeit the contact looked minimal and instigated by the Leicester man. Tielemans took it and placed it to the right of Daniels as the goalkeeper dived left.
That gave Leicester the lead and ensured their bright start to the second half showed more results than their fast opening to the first. The visitors upped the tempo at the start of the second period. They moved the ball quickly through midfield and once again pushed The Bees back. This time they got the goals to show for it and could have had more.
Between the goals Pérez headed a Tielemans cross over the bar and then forced Daniels to tip a shot over after good work by Barnes. The resulting corner eventually became the penalty that Tielemans converted and Maddison lifted a shot just over the bar from a Ricardo Pereira cross soon after as Leicester tried to give themselves breathing space. Pereira was released again on the right moments later and delivered a great cut back for Ünder, but the shot was steered over the bar from 12 yards.
Brentford had a chance of a leveller when a long throw dropped to Forss inside the penalty area, but his shot was blocked and Leicester continued to hold the upper hand. They almost got a third when Barnes played a ball to Thomas and then got it back inside the penalty area, but he could only poke it wide of the far post. The third goal did eventually come inside the final 20 minutes. Ünder played a pass to release Barnes in the inside left channel, his shot was saved by Daniels, but Maddison was there first to tap it in.
Those goals came just after both teams had made a pair of substitutions. Brentford changed their shape, with Aaron Pressley brought on to partner Forss in attack and he almost got on to a Fosu cross but missed his kick from 18 yards. There was an opening for The Bees when Forss turned in to space and Mathias Jensen released Mads Roerslev, the ball reached Fosu inside the penalty area but he was unable to direct his shot towards goal.
Leicester continued to push on as time ran out, but with a two-goal lead, there was a fraction less intensity in their play. Tielemans shot over after a short corner was worked to him 20 yards out and it took a great tackle by Roerslev to prevent Barnes going through on goal. Other moves broke down around the penalty area as Brentford held a good defensive shape, without being able to make much of their possession at the other end.
Forss could have created something when he got away from Daniel Amartey, but the ball ran away and Ward was out to smother. There was a better chance later on when Forss again created something, letting fly with a shot from 25 yards that Ward spilled, Pressley arrived to try and finish it off but lifted his effort over the bar from ten yards. That could have set up a grandstand finish but with that chance gone, Brentford’s cup run came to an end.
Brentford: Daniels; Roerslev, Pinnock, Sørensen, Stevens; Žambůrek (sub Haygarth 84 mins), Janelt (sub Jensen 64 mins), Ghoddos (sub Gilbert 79 mins); Canós (sub Pressley 64 mins), Forss, Fosu
Subs (not used): Raya, Henry, Dalsgaard, Gordon
Bookings: Žambůrek (21 mins)
Leicester City: Ward; Pereira, (sub Castagne 70 mins) Söyüncü, Amartey, Thomas; Tielemans, Mendy (sub Ndidi 70 mins); Ünder (sub Iheanacho 76 mins), Maddison, Barnes; Pérez (sub Albrighton 81 mins)
Subs (not used): Jakupović, James, Fofana, Evans, Choudhury