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Match Reports

Brentford 1 Manchester United 3

Bees beaten by three second half goals

19 January 2022

Brentford conceded two goals in seven second half minutes as they were beaten by Manchester United. The Bees were dominant in the first half and created enough chances to have been well ahead at the break. But United got to half time level, responded after the interval, and scored two quickfire goals that proved to be the difference. Ivan Toney pulled one back for Brentford after United had added a third, but Brentford were unable to get any closer.

The 3-1 final score was harsh on Brentford, who had done enough to be ahead before they conceded. Chances came and went in the first period and United were clinical after the break. The visitors took what they created and did enough to get the win.

Brentford flew out of the blocks, on the front foot from the first whistle. It was a high energy start from The Bees, working incredibly hard when they did not have the ball and playing up the pitch quickly when they did. Brentford look to crowd United in the centre of the midfield and created some good openings in the first 15 minutes, particularly from set pieces.

The Bees could have scored inside two minutes when United failed to deal with a Mads Bech long throw. Bryan Mbeumo got to the loose ball and his cross was cleared as far as Mathias Jensen. The shot from the edge of the penalty bounced wide.

Jensen saw a lot of the ball in the early stages and had the best chance of the first quarter of the contest. It came when Brentford won the ball in United territory. Mbeumo was tackled by Victor Lindelöf, but the ball broke to Christian Nørgaard, and his pass put Jensen through with only David de Gea to beat. Jensen placed a shot low to de Gea’s left and seemed to have sent him the wrong way, but the United goalkeeper stuck out a leg to save. Nørgaard recovered the loose ball and Jensen crossed again, the ball broke to Vitaly Janelt, but his shot deflected wide.

United dealt with the first corner but Jensen was able to deliver another that United could not clear. The ball broke to Bech, and his shot deflected inches wide. The next corner was cleared as far as Janelt, his chipped pass was played back in to the middle by Jensen, but Nørgaard fired over from ten yards.

Mason Greenwood had a shot blocked for the visitors and Diogo Dalot faded an effort wide from further out but United mostly played in front of Brentford’s well-drilled defence in the first half hour. They had a lot of the ball but failed to really trouble The Bees. A half cleared corner caused Brentford most difficulty when Dalot played it back in to the danger area. Anthony Elanga looped a header towards goal that neither Jonas Lössl nor Pontus Jansson dealt with. Fortunately for Brentford, Sergi Canós was well placed to clear.

Fred had a shot blocked later in the half for the visitors, but by that point Brentford should have been ahead. The Bees cleared a corner as Janelt, who made the header, raced up the pitch to get on to a pass from Mbeumo. Janelt’s pass was played in to the path of Jensen by Toney and the Brentford man only had de Gea to beat. Once again, de Gea came out on top, making the save. Toney’s follow-up shot deflected wide.

An Ethan Pinnock header from the resulting corner was saved before a Jensen free kick was half cleared, Janelt lifted it back in, Jansson challenged de Gea and United were fortunate the ball was scrambled away. That ensured the game was level at the break. Brentford would definitely have been the happier at that stage but aware that they should probably have been ahead.

There was an increase in tempo from the visitors after the interval. They pressed Brentford back from kick-off and almost scored immediately. Cristiano Ronaldo saw a shot deflected wide before United played the resulting corner short and created an opening. Bruno Fernanes delivered a cross, and Ronaldo looped a header over Lössl and against the crossbar.

The next corner was cleared by Brentford, and they broke quickly. Mbeumo released Jensen in the inside right channel, but his shot was again saved by de Gea. Toney saw a header from a Mads Roerslev cross blocked and saved before Jensen tried to catch de Gea out of position from 55 yards and the goalkeeper had to scramble back to gather.

The first of United’s quick goals came ten minutes in to the second half, pretty much out of nothing. Fred had space to pick a pass in midfield and saw the run of Elanga, in off the right wing. Elanga’s first touch took him away from the defence and the ball bounced up for him to head past Lössl and in to the corner.

Lössl then had to make a save from a drilled, dipping effort from Scott McTominay and Ronaldo saw a shot blocked. But Brentford could have levelled between the goals. Canós stepped in off the left and combined with Nørgaard to release Jensen. Jensen found the overlapping Roerslev to deliver a cross. The ball dropped to Janelt on the edge of the penalty area, but his hot was miss-hit and bounced in to the arms of de Gea.

Moments later, it was 2-0. Ronaldo cleverly chested the ball in to the path of Fernandes and he raced in to space and away from the defence. Lössl came out to narrow the angle and Fernandes unselfishly squared for Greenwood to tap in.

Brentford tried to respond and made three substitutions as they looked to find a way back in to the game. They could have reduced the arrears with 15 minutes to go when Shandon Baptiste worked his way in to the penalty area on the left. His pass was fired towards goal by Toney, but Raphaël Varane blocked on the line. The ball was recycled and Bech’s cross reached Roerslev at the far post, but he sliced wide.

A few minutes later, United added a third. McTominay played a key role with a burst through Brentford’s reshaped midfield. Fernandes was able to release Marcus Rashford in the inside right channel and he lashed high past Lössl to his left to effectively kill off the contest.

But Brentford refused to give in and kept pushing. It took a fine header from Dalot to stop Rico Henry nodding in a Yoane Wissa cross before The Bees got their goal with five minutes left. United could not deal with a long throw and it dropped to Pinnock. His shot was blocked, bounced around the area before Nørgaard set up Toney to fire in.

Brentford continued to attack, looking to put United under pressure and a Pinnock header was saved in the dying moments. But the visitors also could have added to their tally. Fernandes saw a shot blocked and then tried to lob Lössl when he got on to a Fred pass. Lössl was able to gather and ensure the final score line was not more unjust, but he couldn’t prevent United getting the win.

Brentford: Lössl; Pinnock, Jansson, Bech; Roerslev, Jensen (sub Wissa 67 mins), Nørgaard, Janelt (sub Baptiste 64 mins), Canós (sub Henry 64 mins); Toney, Mbeumo

Subs (not used): Fernández, Stevens, Ajer, Bidstrup, Ghoddos, Forss

Manchester United: de Gea; Telles, Lindelöf, Varane, Dalot; Fred, McTominay (sub Matić 84 mins); Greenwood (sub Rashford 71 mins), Fernandes, Elanga; Ronaldo (sub Maguire 71 mins)

Subs (not used): Heaton, Henderson, Jones, Mata, Martial, van de Beek

Attendance: 17,094 (1,725 away fans)

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