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Brentford 1-4 Liverpool: Player ratings as Reds finally win at Bees

Liverpool Premier League

FROM GTECH COMMUNITY STADIUM – Liverpool moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 4-1 win at Brentford in Saturday’s early kick-off.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were able to lay down a marker before title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City play later on Saturday, earning their first win at the Bees since their promotion at the third attempt, though their injury crisis continued down in west London.

Brentford’s calamitous defending helped their visitors to three points and Thomas Frank’s men were unable to build on last week’s impressive victory away at Wolves.
How the game unfolded

Brentford started brightly and forged the first half-chance of the game following a quick throw-in, with Christian Norgaard eventually releasing Vitaly Janelt, but he was caught in two minds whether to cross or shoot from just inside the Liverpool box and his trickling effort rolled behind.

Liverpool’s first opening came when Conor Bradley marauded inside from the right flank and poked a shot towards the near post with his weaker left foot, but Mark Flekken quickly scampered across to get a glove on the strike, while the Dutchman stood tall to deny Diogo Jota from the rebound.

The hosts went close to going in front when Sergio Reguilon’s early cross was taken in stride by Neal Maupay and laid into the path of Ivan Toney, whose bouncing shot whistled past the far post.

A thumping half-volley from Diogo Jota needed to be tipped over by Flekken as a back-and-forth first half continued.

Just after the half-hour mark, Liverpool broke the deadlock. A long-free kick from Flekken was hoofed clear by Virgil van Dijk, and Diogo Jota beat Reguilon – the last man back – to the header on the halfway line to release Darwin Nunez, who ran through to goal and dinked the Brentford goalkeeper.

Liverpool should have doubled their advantage in first-half stoppage time on another counter from a Brentford set piece, with Luis Diaz sprinting the length of the pitch before cutting back for Mohamed Salah – on in place of the injured Jota – but the ball ricocheted off the Egyptian’s shins and the hosts cleared their lines.

After the break, Salah missed another opening. Van Dijk’s huge header forward found Liverpool’s number 11 running in behind a sleeping Brentford backline, only for Salah to poke his shot wide at Flekken’s near post.

Soon after, Liverpool did have their second. Salah’s ball inside from the right was picked up by Alexis Mac Allister, who sidestepped away from Kristoffer Ajer and toe-poked the ball past Flekken.

Salah was then rewarded for his efforts with a goal of his own. Cody Gakpo beat Ajer to a header on the halfway line, with Salah sprinting beyond the last line and holding off the advances of Nathan Collins before finding the far corner.

Brentford pulled one back as the game entered the final 15 minutes. Yoane Wissa’s low cross found Reguilon, whose fierce drive was well saved by Caoimhin Kelleher, only for Toney to fire home the rebound.

But any hope of a late comeback was extinguished in the last five minutes. Collins completely missed a speculative ball into the final third, and Cody Gakpo was able to stroll in and finish beyond his compatriot Flekken.

Kelleher made another top stop to deny Toney and Van Dijk rattled the crossbar deep into stoppage time before Liverpool’s triumph was confirmed after seven added minutes.

Brentford player ratings (5-3-2)

Toney Brentford

GK: Mark Flekken – 6/10 – Another fine individual performance to continue his fine form, only to be undone by some quality goals.

RB: Mads Roerslev – 5/10 – Disrupted attacks at either end, ending Brentford’s own with his indecision and lack of dynamism.

CB: Nathan Collins – 2/10 – Guilty of some lazy passing at times, putting his side needlessly under the cosh. Comically poor for Liverpool’s fourth.

CB: Kristoffer Ajer – 3/10 – Beaten too easily by Mac Allister and Gakpo for Liverpool’s second-half goals.

CB: Ben Mee – 5/10 – Stood tall and won his duels both in the air and on the ground, though lost Salah for Liverpool’s third. Brentford’s best defender.

LB: Sergio Reguilon – 5/10 – Carried Brentford into attack, particularly in their bright first half, but not dealing with the header leading to Nunez’s opener cost his side dearly.

CM: Mathias Jensen – 6/10 – Whether in tight spaces or spreading play, the Dane was impressive when in possession.

CM: Christian Norgaard – 5/10 – The captain’s great influence in midfield waned as the game went on and he was replaced by the fresh legs of AFCON finalist Onyeka in the second half.

CM: Vitaly Janelt – 5/10 – Worked well as a runner and box-crasher but couldn’t provide more of a tangible threat.

CF: Neal Maupay – 6/10 – If football’s favourite s***house had even a smidgen of pace or physicality, he’d be unstoppable. Held the ball up well despite his small stature and was the more competent of Brentford’s front two.

CF: Ivan Toney – 6/10 – Got into dangerous areas but was missing his shooting boots at opportune times. Couldn’t pass up the chance for Brentford’s consolation.

Substitutes

SUB: Yoane Wissa (63′ for Maupay) – 7/10

SUB: Keane Lewis-Potter (63′ for Roerslev) – 5/10

SUB: Frank Onyeka (63′ for Norgaard) – 6/10

SUB: Mikkel Damsgaard (74′ for Jensen) – 6/10

SUB: Saman Ghoddos (85′ for Reguilon) – N/A

Subs not used: Thomas Strakosha (GK), Zanka, Shandon Baptiste, Yehor Yarmoliuk

Manager

Thomas Frank – 5/10 – Completed his 100th Premier League game as head coach. Brentford were threatening but were undone by defensive lapses, which has largely been the story of their season.

Liverpool player ratings (4-3-3)

Nunez Liverpool

GK: Caoimhin Kelleher – 7/10 – Hardly tested on his second successive start in place of the injured Alisson, though did come up with two stunning stops to keep out Reguilon prior to the goal and Toney in added time.

RB: Conor Bradley – 7/10 – Played with a composure and decision-making beyond his years. Will ease Liverpool’s fears over Trent Alexander-Arnold with performances like this.

CB: Ibrahima Konate – 7/10 – Shut down the physical threat of Toney and harshly penalised for dealing with the undersized Maupay in a similar manner.

CB: Virgil van Dijk – 8/10 – Defended with his usual effortlessness on his 250th Liverpool appearance. Came up with two clearances which led to goals.

LB: Andy Robertson – 6/10 – Still clearly lacking sharpness after several months on the treatment table, but stretched play with his runs down the touchline.

CM: Wataru Endo – 7/10 – Disrupted play by any means necessary. Liverpool needed his energy to stay afloat at times.

CM: Alexis Mac Allister – 8/10 – Like Endo was needed for his defensive duties before conjuring up some magic for his side’s second goal.

CM: Curtis Jones – 6/10 – Controlled the midfield battle before succumbing to an ankle injury in the first half.

RW: Diogo Jota – 7/10 – His endeavour set up Nunez’s opener, but like Jones his first half was cut short due to injury after being landed on by Norgaard.

CF: Darwin Nunez – 8/10 – Took his goal in the most Nunez way possible – the most difficult method by far – but was brought off at half-time.

LW: Luis Diaz – 7/10 – Missing that once-electric burst of pace but still found a way to cause Brentford problems, drawing in several defenders at any given time.

Substitutes

SUB: Ryan Gravenberch (34′ for Jones) – 6/10 – Didn’t stand out too much in midfield, and certainly didn’t demand the ball as much as Jones did.

SUB: Mohamed Salah (44′ for Jota) – 8/10 – Needed a couple of sobering moments to get back into the groove and then take the game by the scruff of the neck.

SUB: Cody Gakpo (46′ for Nunez) – 8/10 – Dropped deep to link play and open up Brentford’s backline.

SUB: Joe Gomez (83′ for Bradley) – N/A

SUB: Harvey Elliott (83′ for Mac Allister) – N/A

Subs not used: Adrian (GK), Jarell Quansah, Kostas Tsimikas, James McConnell

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 8/10 – Liverpool coped well with Brentford’s early flurry and managed to impose themselves on a fixture they have historically struggled in.

Player of the match – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)