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  • By Yann Tear at Brentford Community Stadium

Gutsy Brentford keep Man City fretting until the end

Brentford (0) 0

Man City (1) 1 Foden 16

Brentford gave the champions a mighty scare as they once again showed they have the nous and the stomach for the very toughest of assignments.

They were beaten by a first-half strike from Phil Foden, but kept their shape, kept massing behind the ball well, and kept believing a chance might come their way.

It did not quite work out for them but that is now three super-competitive displays against the top three at the Brentford Community Stadium.

They have drawn with Liverpool, only lost (unluckily) by a goal against Chelsea and once again applied themselves heroically and intelligently.

There was so much to admire about the Bees’ approach. It was smart, patient and lively in the final third and they almost drew first blood several times before falling behind.

Great hounding of Ruben Dias led to a turnover and lightning raid, ending with a low Frank Onyeka shot at Ederson, before Yoane Wissa had a cross which deflected off Dias and it needed quick reflexes from the keeper to keep the ball out.

Mathias Jensen tried an audacious shot from near halfway after spotting Ederson off his line (It drifted wide) before Thomas Frank’s men went even closer when Ivan Toney flicked a header at goal and Joao Cancelo had to stoop to head off the line.

But City are not where they are for nothing and within seconds of nearly taking the roof off in jubilation, Bees fans saw their team fall behind when Kevin De Bruyne’s low cross from an angle was turned in at the near post by Foden.

City had mastery of the ball, and now the lead. But the Bees stood their ground and stuck to the plan. Early balls to Toney offered hope, though the absence of an injured Bryan Mbeumo (calf strain) removed a source of greater threats.

Toney remained a big presence, however, and after having his toes stamped on by Fernandinho, he soon exacted revenge by planting his studs on the City midfielder’s leg as he lay prone after a tussle for the ball. He was lucky to escape sanction for what looked deliberate.

After the break, Foden’s glancing header from another cleverly-angled cross from De Bruyne almost flew inside the far post and the England striker was flagged offside after heading in a cross from Gabriel Jesus.

De Bruyne cracked a shot against an upright and the visitors kept hogging the ball – as is their wont. But without that second goal, there was still hope of an upset.

The fans sensed it and raised the volume. Sergi Canos and Saman Ghoddos came on to stoke the fires a bit more and hopes lifted even more after VAR ruled offside when Aymeric Laporte’s 87th minute header flew past Alvaro Fernandez, following a De Bruyne free-kick.

In his programme notes, Frank spoke of 2021 having been a year of great memories for the club and this was another significant day – taking on the champions and league leaders on home soil. A first game against City in the league for 70 years.

These remain pinch-yourself occasions which will surely last a lifetime for Bees fans, whatever results materialise. The key is being competitive and that they have been now against the big three here at their new west London home.

Even in defeat, they are proving so much to themselves and to any doubting Thomases – of which Frank is very definitely not one.

Bees: (3-5-2) Fernandez – Pinnock, Jansson, Bech Sorensen – Roerslev, Baptiste, Jensen, Onyeka (Bidstrup 76), Thompson (Ghoddos 82) – Wissa (Canos 69), Toney. Subs not used: Cox, Forss, Peart-Harris, Stevens

City: (4-3-3) Ederson – Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Laporte, Ake – De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Bernardo Sila – Jesus, Foden, Grealish. Subs not used: Steffen, Carson, Sterling, Gundogan, Zinchenko, Mahrez, Mbete, Palmer


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