At the final whistle, Jürgen Klopp couldn’t help shaking his head in disbelief. Somehow, his Liverpool team had managed to squander the victory against a Brentford team that he simply never stopped believing. While Klopp can take comfort in the fact that his team has a one-point lead at the top after Mohamed Salah scored his 100th Premier League goal, he will know that they need to improve considerably if they are to make it all the way this season as their defensive weaknesses. they were exposed over and over again.
A spirited performance by Brentford brought to life by Ethan Pinnock’s first goal and completed by Yoane Wissa’s draw eight minutes from time could have been even worse for Liverpool had it not been for a last-minute tackle from Virgil van. Dijk, even if a draw was probably the fair result of a vibrant game.
By the whim of fate after previous results, all four possible title contenders this season were at 13 points when this match began, not to mention Rafael Benitez’s Everton resurgence. Klopp, who pulled his players off the pitch after the warm-up by running through the tunnel, clearly recognized the importance of Liverpool’s first experience in this gleaming new stadium.
These two clubs last met in the league in May 1947, when Brentford’s 12-year stint in the First Division came to an end despite a 1-1 draw at old Griffin Park. Visiting fans couldn’t resist taunting their opponents yelling “you’re just a bus stop in Hounslow” as the game started.
However, after a shaky start that required Kristoffer Ajer to rush back to clear Salah’s shot off the line after playing it from the outside, it was the enterprising hosts who should have gotten ahead in a frenzied first 10 minutes. Ivan Toney and Frank Onyeka had scoring opportunities after the Liverpool defense failed to clear the danger before Bryan Mbeumo opted to lift the ball over Alisson as he passed the goal, allowing Joël Matip to prevent him from crossing the line.
With four changes to the team that beat Crystal Palace last week, including Curtis Jones replacing the injured Thiago Alcântara in midfield and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Matip and Andy Robertson restored on defense, Liverpool should have looked more confident, but they struggled to contain the live wire. Toney and Mbeumo. Brentford’s rise to the Premier League has been characterized by smart behind-the-scenes recruiting and an attacking approach; Klopp called them “brave in almost everything they do” earlier this week. That was exactly what came to mind when Toney’s shiny rear heel deflected a driven cross from Liverpool academy product Sergi Canós into Pinnock’s path at the back post to open the scoring.
However, Brentford’s joy was short-lived. A brilliant cross from Jordan Henderson allowed Diogo Jota to fade in front of his marker and lead home the tie. It was the kind of game where you couldn’t look away for a second. Only carpentry and an excellent save by David Raya to deny Jones and then Jota kept Liverpool from taking the lead at halftime, and the injured Pinnock’s afternoon came to a premature end when he was replaced by Mathias Jørgensen.
Thomas Frank seemed more than satisfied with his team at halftime, but the Brentford manager must have been prepared for the attack to come. Alexander-Arnold and Robertson advanced early in the second half as a sign of Liverpool’s intention and were quick to find advancement after Raya saved Jota’s effort at point blank range.
Fabinho’s floating ball to the back post fooled the entire Brentford defense and Salah flew home his historic goal despite being initially called offside by the assistant referee. Replays showed that it was Canos who had played the Egyptian onside.
But Brentford will always offer a threat going forward and they again found a way through Liverpool’s fragile defense. Pontus Jansson’s shot crashed off the crossbar after a cross into the box before Vitaly Janelt was able to head the ball just over the line despite Alexander-Arnold’s best efforts to get there first. However, the parity lasted all three minutes, when Jones let fly from the edge of the area and his shot deflected from the unfortunate Ajer to beat Raya on his first post.
That was his last act when Roberto Firmino was introduced from the bench, with Salah squandering a golden opportunity to score the points after Sadio Mané’s pass. How would he come to regret that when Wissa – as a late substitute just four minutes earlier – coldly lifted the ball over Alisson to earn a deserved point.