Leeds survive with win, but their brush with relegation is a warning for Bees about next year
Brentford (0) 1 Canos 78
Leeds United (0) 2 Raphinha pen 56, Harrison 90
Leeds saved themselves from the drop on the final day of the season as a below-par Brentford failed to find the form that has characterised so much of their form in recent weeks.
The Bees fell behind to a Raphinha penalty early in the second half and although substitute Sergi Canos headed a leveller, Thomas Frank’s men could not press the accelerator as they had Canos sent off moments later and had run out of subs when Kristoffer Ajer had to leave the field with an injury.
It left the visitors facing only nine men with less to fear in defence, but it was still a nervy finale for them as they needed to be sure they achieved a better result than relegation rivals Burnley against Newcastle, who were losing 2-1 but threatening an equaliser.
In the event, Jack Harrison struck a fine low shot into the bottom corner after the Bees had failed to clear a last-gasp corner.
It capped a dramatic final few minutes to the season and Leeds players celebrated wildly with their fans in the away corner before the hosts could enjoy their deserved lap of appreciation.
It was a slightly disappointing way for it all to end, but for a team expected to struggle in their first season in the Premier League, this has been a delight for them.
They were never in the bottom three all season and apart from a blip pre-Christian Eriksen it has been a smooth campaign.
The trick now will be to avoid the second-season syndrome which almost sucked Leeds back into the Championship.
Leeds looked more motivated throughout, with England midfielder Kalvin Phillips back to something approaching his best form.
They thought they had broken the deadlock after 19 minutes when Harrison appeared to have beaten the offside trap with a flick though to Joe Gelhardt, which the striker put away clinically.
But VAR confirmed that Gelhardt was just ahead of last man Mads Bech Sorensen.
Leeds fans at least had the consolation of hearing that at the same moment, Newcastle had gone ahead with a Callum Wilson penalty at Burnley.
That goal was enough to drop the Clarets into the bottom three and see Leeds rise above the dotted line.
It took a while for the Bees to fashion a proper attack, but they came close on 34 minutes.
Eriksen floated a ball out to the right and Bryan Mbeumo tricked his way past Junior Firpo on the byline to tee up Mathias Jensen for a delicate chip attempt that Ilan Meslier had to tip over.
Moments later, Eriksen danced past a flaying defender inside the area and sent a low deflected shot just wide before Yoanne Wissa chanced his arm from outside the area.
They came even closer when Jensen played in Mbeumo for a good chance that the Frenchman spurned, cutting the ball wide of the far post with his weaker right foot.
The Bees were not quite on the money but almost stole a march at the start of the second half when Wissa’s neat touch forward gave Eriksen a chance to run at Leeds and play in Mbeumo for a shot into Meslier’s midriff.
Leeds did not want to rely on Newcastle doing them favours and Raphinha linked with Rodrigo for a decent chance – the low shot no trouble, though, for David Raya.
And then came the penalty soon after. Raya made a hash of a clearance and in trying to repair the damage after the ball ran to Raphinha, he raced out and upended the Brazilian.
The spot-kick was put away with supreme confidence.
And that looked like being that. Leeds were shoring up the midfield. The Bees were not quite with it.
But then, with 15 minutes to go, Wissa finally provided the guile needed to break the Leeds rearguard. Lurking at the far post was Canos, and he head back inside the far post.
That was not the end of Canos’ headline grabbing though.
Booked for removing his shirt in celebration, the Spaniard then saw red two minutes later, flying into Raphinha on the touchline and Frank’s side played out the final 10 minutes with nine men as Ajer had to hobble off with a groin strain after the hosts had already brought on their three subs.
Leeds made the most of it and survive by the skin of their teeth.
Bees: (4-3-3) Raya – Ajer, Jansson, Bech Sorensen (Baptiste 70), Henry (Canos 63) – Jensen (Dasilva 58), Norgaard, Eriksen – Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa. Subs not used: Fernandez, Onyeka, Jeanvier, Roerslev, Stevens, Young-Coombes
Leeds: (4-1-4-1) Meslier – Koch, Llorente, Cooper, Firpo – Phillips – Raphinha, Greenwood, Rodrigo, Harrison – Gelhardt (Struijk 70). Subs not Klaesson, Roberts, Bate, Hjelde, Cresswell, Klich, Shackleton, Gray