Five-star Eriksen pulls the strings again as Brentford prove too strong for Saints
Brentford (2) 3 Jansson 13, Wissa 14, Ajer 79
Southampton (0) 0
Christian Eriksen produced another star turn as Brentford cruised to another comfortable victory to add to their canon of happy first-season outings in the Premier League.
With 43 points in the bag and two still to play, the Bees have probably surpassed all expectations – and if there is one man more responsible for that luxury it is surely the Dane.
He arrived at just the right time. Steadying the ship as it threatened to start listing, providing the calm authority and telling passes which transformed the season.
He was at it again one more time at the Brentford Community Stadium – involved in the first-half goals which put Thomas Frank’s team in firm control and Saints could never quite rest when he had the ball at his feet – capable of launching long angled passes to set up attacks.
It was certainly a day when the midfielder eclipsed the contribution of the normally excellent James Ward-Prowse in the Saints’ ranks. "Christian Eriksen, we want you to stay," rang out towards the end. The fans know.
The Bees allowed Saints plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges, but soon decided they had seen enough, quickly seizing the initiative with two goals in a matter of seconds.
First, Pontus Jansson turned in an Ivan Toney cross from five yards following a Eriksen corner, then Yoanne Wissa followed up nicely after Eriksen had been baulked as he ran towards the area, moving the ball on into space and wrapping the ball inside the left corner of Fraser Forster’s net.
Even ahead of those goals, the change of gear had suggested goals for the Bees were in the offing. In a sweet move, Bryan Mbeumo fed Rico Henry on overlap and Mathias Jensen almost converted at the far stick. Then Wissa cut inside Mohamed Salisu and rifled low at Forster
More goals looked a given. Eriksen – again involved – floated a free-kick deep to the far post in a clear training ground move and Toney thrashed a low cross that Wissa turned over from three yards when it looked easier to score.
Later in the half, Toney brilliantly controlled a ball struck from deep in his own half by string-puller Eriksen and a quick dart towards goal and low shot needed Forster to get down sharpish. Even then, the rebound might have been used more profitably by Mbeumo, who hurriedly fired over on the turn.
Saints tried to respond, with the muscular Chelsea loanee Armando Broja sparking some danger and Ward-Prowse forcing David Raya into a save with a clipped bending effort from outside the box.
Kyle Walker-Peters headed a good chance over and Adam Armstrong had the ball in the net just before the break, but was flagged offside.
The second half was more about calm game management than risk taking but they still found another goal – Kristoffer Ajer beating the offside trap to slide Christian Norgaard’s ball through the legs of Forster.
It was the former Celtic defender’s first goal for the club and capped another afternoon of serene comfort for the Bees.
Soon after the Norwegian’s goal, the Ole’s were ringing out as Bees played keep ball. They could even afford to blood debutant Nathan Jay Young-Coombes as the trouble-free afternoon reached its climax.
Bees: (4-3-3) Raya – Ajer, Jansson, Bech Sorensen, Henry – Jensen (Young-Coomes 86), Norgaard, Eriksen – Mbeumo (Baptiste 81), Toney, Wissa (Dasilva 70). Subs not used: Lossl, Jeanvier, Fosu-Henry, Baptiste, Janelt, Roerslev, Stevens, Young-Coombes
Saints: (4-4-2) Forster – Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud – S Armstrong (Romeu 83), Ward-Prowse, Diallo (Elyounoussi 64), Redmond – A Armstrong, Broja. Subs not used: McCarthy, Lyanco, Long, Adams, Tella,Valery, Dibling