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Match Reports

Watford 1 Brentford 2

Bees grab last gasp winner at Vicarage Road

16 April 2022

Pontus Jansson headed in a last gasp winner as Brentford beat Watford. The captain arrived to head home a Christian Eriksen cross in the dying seconds to give Brentford a 2-1 win at Vicarage Road. It completed a remarkable double for Brentford and Jansson. He scored his only other goal in Brentford’s 2-1 win over the same opponents in December. That night it was the equaliser and Bryan Mbeumo scored a stoppage time winner in a 2-1 victory; a trick repeated on a warm Easter Saturday.

Brentford were not at their best but managed to stay in the game and get the win. Christian Nørgaard scored early on to put The Bees in front and Brentford had the better of the first half, albeit they were by no means dominant. Watford levelled after a Video Assistant Referee check early in the second half and the game looked destined to end all square. Watford missed a golden chance late on, although it may have been offside, and when Brentford got theirs seconds later, Jansson took it.

There was a relatively sedate start to the game, perhaps influenced by the elevated temperatures as the sun shone down. Both teams had spells of possession but mostly in their own half, content to look to build in to the contest. The teams matched each other with three in the centre of midfield and neither was able to take control or create much in the first minutes.

The first sight of goal was created by Brentford for Eriksen. He had the time and space to measure a shot from 25 yards but failed to get the contact he would have liked, and the shot faded wide of the far post. The next time Brentford were in an attacking position, they took the lead.

The goal came from a throw in on the right which Ethan Pinnock propelled in to the penalty area. Kristoffer Ajer flicked it on at the near post and Nørgaard arrived to place a side foot volley home from five yards. Watford completely failed to track Nørgaard’s run in to the penalty area and he had no trouble placing the ball past Ben Foster and in to the net.

The home side would have been frustrated to fall behind, given they had just had a couple of good openings. A corner was half cleared to Moussa Sissoko, but he dragged a shot wide and Juraj Kucka was unable to flick the ball home. There was also a chance for Ismaïla Sarr, who met a cross on the run from Kiko Femenía with a powerful header but was unable to direct it on target.

Watford were forcing Brentford to play in their own half at that point, but a ball forward caused the hosts to concede a throw, and they were soon behind. Yoane Wissa tested Foster with a curling shot soon after, but The Bees were forced in to a change when Pinnock was unable to continue. He walked off holding the back of his leg and Mads Bech was introduced to replace him in the centre of Brentford’s defence.

João Pedro and Kucka both smashed off target from distance as Watford tried to recover and the home side had spells of attacking possession without really troubling David Raya in the Brentford goal. There was an important tackle from Ajer when it looked like Watford were making a breakaway and crosses were well defended by a revamped Brentford defence. And at the other end, The Bees were pressing for a second.

Jansson headed a deep corner back to Vitaly Janelt, who dragged a shot wide from a good position. Eriksen then stung the palms of Foster, who managed to hang on with Ivan Toney lurking. Bryan Mbeumo had a shot blocked and a Wissa effort deflected wide as Brentford pushed Watford back.

Mbeumo set up Wissa from the resulting corner, but his shot was blocked. That gave The Bees another corner that again found Wissa. He miss-hit a shot that bounced around the area and was set for Janelt, but he lashed wide. Mbeumo fired a Rico Henry cross wide on the turn, but Watford ended the half with the initiative.

Henry had to make a very important tackle when it looked like Sarr was going through and a Sissoko header was blocked. Raya had to make his only save of the half from a weak Imrân Louza effort in the last action of the first period. The closest Watford came to scoring was when Ajer miss-hit an attempt to clear a Femenía free kick. The ball flew back past Raya, leaving him stranded, but just past the post.

The second half started as quietly as the first had. Both teams had spells of possession but most of it was in areas that did not worry their opponents. Brentford had the first sight of goal when a clever run from Toney enabled him to get free of the home defence and on to a clipped Eriksen free kick. But Toney did not make the right contact with the first-time shot, and it dribbled just wide of the far post.

It was only seconds later that Watford went down the other end and got their equaliser. The ball was worked to the right and a cross from Femenía reached Emmanuel Dennis at the far post, possibly via the head of Sarr. Dennis steadied himself and lashed a shot high past Raya and in to the net from a tight angle. Celebrations were cut short as Assistant Referee Derek Eaton had his flag raised, indicating Sarr was offside. Video Assistant Referee Graham Scott watched the action and decided no offside offence had been committed, albeit it was not clear in the stadium whether Sarr was onside or if he had not touched the ball. The decision was reversed, the goal was given, and Watford were level.

The goal came ten minutes in to the second half and Watford tried to build on it. Louza hit a defensive wall with a free kick and Raya gathered after a scramble. Samir then brought down a cross and pulled a shot wide on the turn. An Ajer header from a long throw looped in to the arms of Foster and Jansson saw a header saved.

There were frenetic moments towards the end of the game but few spells of sustained pressure and not many chances until a crazy final few seconds. Toney challenged with Samir and smashed a dropping ball from 35 yards towards goal. It beat Foster and bounced just past the post.

As the game entered the final moments, Brentford appeared to have the initiative. Eriksen saw a shot blocked and The Bees pushed on. There was no indication of what was to come.

Watford came close to a late winner when a Dennis free kick was pushed on to the crossbar and over by Raya, but that was just the start of it. There was a mad scramble three minutes in to the five added by Referee Simon Hooper that somehow stayed out. Dennis found space in the penalty area and had a shot that fell to Sissoko. The ball rebounded to King a few yards out, but he hit the inside of the post. It then dropped to Louza, but he fired over. A VAR check may have adjudged at least one Watford player offside, but Brentford still breathed a huge sigh of relief.

They then went and took their opening. A free kick was won in the inside right channel that that Eriksen stood over. His delivery arced to the edge of the six yard box for Jansson to power a header down, past Foster and in. The delivery was inch perfect, Jansson got clear of his man and his header settled in to the net to win the match and spark wild celebrations from the Brentford fans behind the goal as The Bees made it five wins in six and won at Vicarage Road for the first time since 1977.

Watford: Foster; Femenía (sub Cathcart 87 mins), Kabasele, Samir, Kamara; Sissoko, Louza, Kucka (sub Cleverley 84 mins); Sarr, João Pedro (sub King 84 mins), Dennis

Subs (not used): Bachmann, Ngakia, Etebo, Gosling, Forde

Bookings: Kamara (53 mins), Louza (87 mins)

Brentford: Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock (sub Bech 21 mins), Henry; Janelt (sub Jensen 74 mins), Nørgaard, Eriksen; Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa (sub Ghoddos 66 mins)

Subs (not used): Fernández, Stevens, Roerslev, Baptiste, Fosu, Dasilva

Bookings: Toney (62 mins)


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