• By Yann Tear at Brentford Community Stadium

Brentford's first-half promise blown away after Man United seize control


Brentford (0) 1 Toney 85

Man United (0) 3 Elanga 55, Greenwood 62, Rashford 77

The Bees paid for missing some golden first-half chances as United raised their game after the break to take the points.


Thomas Frank’s men were excellent early on and went in at the interval knowing they really should have been in front.


They caused their illustrious visitors major concerns and put together some strong spells of pressure which made a stressed-looking United seem distinctly ordinary.


But two goals in seven minutes - from Anthony Elanga and Mason Greenwood - changed the mood of the night and sub Marcus Rashford came on to rub salt in the wounds.


Ivan Toney forced home a late consolation following a corner, but it was too little, too late.


Mathias Jensen was twice denied by David De Gea during Brentford’s golden spell, when he should have put great chances away.


Brentford’s punishment was to fall behind to those two quickfire strikes and after that there was little prospect of a recovery.


Bryan Meumo – who put in an astonishingly rocket-fuelled shift – was involved in the first big chance of the night.


His run at the heart of the United defence was halted by Rafael Varane but Christian Norgaard picked up the loose change and fed Jensen for a low strike which really ought to have found the net – De Gea’s telescopic outstretched leg keeping the score at 0-0.


Vitaly Janelt nearly hammered in from the rebound through a forest of legs and then both Mads Bech Sorensen and Norgaard went close as the home side applied some pressure - the former having a close-range shot deflected into the side-netting and his team-mate firing just over.


Diogo Dalot’s shot with a late fade on it did not miss an upright by much as United responded but there seemed even greater menace in Brentford’s counter-attacks. In a lightning raid led by Mbeumo, the ball was moved on from Toney to Jensen and once again De Gea kept his goal intact with a leg.


United could surely not be as bad after a half-time team talk from Ralf Rangnick and a bright start saw Cristiano Ronaldo loop a header onto the top of the crossbar.


And 10 minutes in, United were in front when Fred’s chip in from the right was neatly played up into the air by Elanga – taking it away from Mads Roerslev – and the Swedish teenager nodded his own assist past league debutant Jonas Lossl.


Then, a clever chest pass into space from Ronaldo released Bruno Fernandes for a run on goal and the United captain scampered into the box before feeding Greenwood for a simple tap-in.


When Scott McTominay won possession in the centre circle, a quick transfer to Fernandes was followed by a short pass wide to the overlapping Rashford and the England striker buried a perfect shot into the roof of the net.


So, no glory this time for the Bees, in a fixture that had long in the making – and not just because of the Covid outbreak which put paid to the original date for the match of December 14 last year.


Not since 1947 had the two clubs locked horns in the league – a solitary League Cup tie between the sides in 1976 the only competitive contest since then.


The Bees lost 2-1 at Old Trafford that day and you have to go back to pre-war years to find the last time United were defeated. Brentford beat the Red Devils 2-0 in an FA Cup tie in 1938 and their last league win came a year earlier.


Sellers of those infernal half-and-half scarves certainly understood the novelty value and pitched up in great numbers.


But there will be no big demand for keepsakes from home fans now. This was one that got away.


Bees: (3-5-2) Lossl – Bech Sorensen, Jansson, Pinnock – Roerslev, Janelt (Baptiste 64), Norgaard, Jensen (Wissa 67), Canos (Henry 64) – Meumo, Toney. Subs not used: Fernandez, Forss, Ghoddos, Ajer, Bidstrup, Stevens

United: (4-2-3-1) De Gea – Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Telles – McTominay (Matic 85), Fred – Greenwood (Rashford 71), Bruno Fernandes, Elanga –Ronaldo (Maguire 71). Subs not used: Heaton, Henderson, Jones, Mata, Martial, Van de Beek