Brentford 5 (Toney 30 pen, 45, 58, Mbeumo 80, Wissa 90+1)
Leeds United 2 (Sinisterra 45+1, Roca 79)
3rd September 2022, Premier League.
Oh my goodness! I’m not sure about you, but that felt to me like so many trips we’ve made down to London in recent years; we always seem to travel with high hopes only to get there and be undone largely by chronic bad luck! If it can go wrong, in London it usually does! OK, this time we helped Lady Luck no end with some dire defending as well, but did we really deserve to lose that game 5 – 2? I think not.
After some early scares that we survived, Leeds had just started to look like the better team on the day when our first piece of bad luck intervened. Sinisterra was adjudged to have fouled Toney following a pitch-side monitor check by referee Robert Jones. The ref had not given the penalty and with some three minutes or more taken up with VAR scrutinising the incident, can that really have been a clear and obvious error by Jones? Of course not, if it takes that long then it cannot be a clear decision that it was a foul, let alone that Jones had erred. Still, this is Leeds in London and they all contrived to overturn the initial decision. It was a bad time, just on the half-hour, to concede but Toney put the spot kick away well. Maybe it was a penalty, but it can only be our bad luck that VAR saw the incident differently from Jones and intervened.
Going 2 – 0 down just before the break looked potentially terminal for Leeds – there is no denying it was a fine free-kick from Toney but was that wall properly aligned? One more man on the end and a more decisive attempt to attack the ball by Tyler Adams might have resulted in a better outcome. Adams merely turned away from the strike!
When Luis Sinisterra showed us again what class he has, still before the break, hope was rekindled. It was a fine piece of skill to lift the ball over a defender, take the ball on his knee, and steer the ball accurately into the corner of the net. He is some player and I’m sure he will become as influential as Raphinha was in due course.
Sadly the bad luck and appalling defending had only really just begun and in the 58th minute, we presented Toney with his hat-trick. It was a comedy of errors as Leeds let a ball go clean through our back line. Meslier did well to read it and dash out to clear but he didn’t get it out of play as he surely was aiming to do. It was collected and pushed through for Toney to finish once again. There is no doubt he’s a fine striker and this was another cool piece of finishing but we were giving him a huge hand today.
Even at 3 – 1 down we had our chances – only Patrick Bamford knows how he missed when he scuffed the ball wide when it looked easier to score- and should we have been given a penalty when Summerville was first tugged back (admittedly outside the area) but then shoved in the back inside the box? Neither ‘foul’ was given by the incomprehensible mind of Robert Jones and Jesse was so incensed that he was red-carded! Can you blame him though, the decision was incomprehensible!
We did get it back to 3 – 2 though, all through our own efforts and with a big assist from the much missed Luke Ayling. He fired across the box and Marc Roca slammed it home.
But Lady Luck wasn’t done with us yet and next the ball came off Robin Koch’s head to put Mbeumo behind our back line – once again, it was far too easy for us to get undone and with Llorente now the wrong side of his man, Mbeumo raced through to restore the two-goal lead. Another VAR check rightly decreed it was a Leeds head that put the ball through.
There were more goal-mouth scrambles as Leeds twice went close but the ball just would not bounce the right way for us and soon it was put beyond us with yet another moment of Keystone Cops comedy from Diego Llorente as he was caught in possession by Wissa and the Brentford man went through to finish cleanly again. It was Wissa’s 26th birthday today and I can only think Llorente knew that but had forgotten his gift…
I am told the expected goals for this game showed as 2 for the Bees and 2 for Leeds! So much for that statistic.
So, lots to ponder for Jesse Marsch after this one. The appearance and immediate impact of Luke Ayling suggest he ought to slot straight back in, especially since question marks remain over the defensive qualities of Kristensen. Can we afford to continue with Diego Llorente in that back line? I’m not sure we can and if Liam Cooper is fit surely he must return too. We have to stop getting caught at the back so easily, we have seen it on and off all season to date but today it was strikingly obvious.
End of the day we must remember that we were not 5 – 2 worse than Brentford and, in any case they are a decent side. The defensive errors though must be sorted out and we need to get back on track next Monday when Nottingham Forest come to Elland Road.
Brentford Leeds U
Possession 31% 69%
Shots 14 17
On Target 8 6
Corners 2 6
Fouls 8 9