Highlights, report and reaction: Brentford 1 Manchester United 1


Kristoffer Ajer’s second goal in as many games earned Brentford a well-deserved point against Manchester United on Saturday night.

The away team took the lead six minutes into stoppage time – substitute Mason Mount beat Bees goalkeeper Mark Flekken – but Ajer converted Ivan Toney’s cutback three minutes later in a dramatic finish at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Level at half-time with Brentford twice denied by the woodwork

Thomas Frank made two changes from the team that suffered a narrow defeat at Burnley a fortnight ago at Turf Moor.

The most notable inclusion was Yehor Yarmoliuk, who made his first start of the calendar year, the Ukrainian replacing Frank Onyeka in midfield.

Keane Lewis-Potter also returned to left back in place of the suspended Sergio Reguilón.

Manchester United were unchanged from their dramatic 4-3 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Liverpool.

A cautious start saw half-chances for both sides as Yarmoliuk did well to get the byline and dropped back looking for Jensen before the visitors cleared.

Marcus Rashford led a United counter-attack soon after, but it was a move that culminated in Bruno Fernandes dragging the visiting team’s first opening wide of the goal.

It was the Bees who proceeded to dominate the rest of the half and indeed the match.

Yoanne Wissa’s work rate allowed her to take advantage of some weakness in the visitors’ defense and she produced a low cross that required Victor Lindelöf to clear.

Lindelöf’s centre-back partner Raphaël Varane had to return the favor as Brentford continued to press for the first goal of the night.

Jensen saw his shot saved by Onana before Ivan Toney’s free-kick was cleared after a clever routine with Vitaly Janelt.

The best chance of the half fell to Toney soon after. Nathan Collins showed great vision to find Wissa in space, and his turn around the corner put the England international in goal.

With only Andre Onana to beat, Toney’s shot sailed agonizingly wide of the goalkeeper’s right post before United broke clear and Wissa headed wide from the resulting corner.

The woodwork would deny Brentford the breakthrough their quick start had again deserved moments later.

A short corner routine worked to the original kicker Jensen ended with Zanka’s powerful header hitting the back post just grazing the crossbar.

Wissa had personified Brentford’s desire in the first half. She recovered the ball on the edge of the home area and found Janelt.

The German’s weighted ball over the top was perfect for the run of Toney, who left Lindelöf on the ground as he cut inside and fired just over the top.

There was no let-up in intensity from Frank’s side as both Janelt and Wissa missed further attempts and Onana had to be alert to save Lewis-Potter’s header from Ajer’s cross with the outside of his foot as he finished half.

Mount and Ajer got it right in a dramatic finish at the Gtech

The second half began with a succession of Brentford corners and Diogo Dalot heading wide of goal.

Wissa’s strong run from inside his own half produced a deflected shot before Flekken made a superb save to thwart Rasmus Højlund at the opposite end of the field.

Onana then denied Yarmoliuk, as did Lewis-Potter on the rebound. The wide man also diverted the aim of a Jensen cross during another sustained period of Bees pressure.

Toney’s volley off a lofted pass from Jensen was the next opportunity to come and go. Lewis-Potter’s bicycle into the box took the home team’s shot count to 23 as the game entered its final 20 minutes.

Bryan Mbeumo replaced Wissa and Mikel Damsgaard was introduced in place of the impressive Yarmoliuk in the hosts’ first two changes.

Toney finally had the ball in the net in the 73rd minute when he took advantage of Mbeumo’s pass, but the striker was called inches offside.

The crossbar would again deny Brentford a goal as Mbeumo saw his brilliant cannon of a volley bounce off the post, and Toney then hooked the Cameroonian’s corner with seven minutes left on the clock.

Nine added minutes were signaled by the fourth referee and it seemed like it was going to be the cruelest ending for Frank’s team.

As a substitute, Mason Mount took advantage of Casemiro’s pass and slotted into the far corner to give the visitors a lead they were lucky to have gained.

But later came the drama and desperation soon turned to joy within the Gtech.

Saman Ghoddos lofted the ball high into the Manchester United penalty area, and Ivan Toney brilliantly kept it alive.

The striker made his way to the byline and laid the ball on a plate for Ajer to score in front of the west stand as well-deserved parity was restored.

There was still time for the Bees to roll the dice once more, but United cleared Neal Maupay’s deep cross and referee Hooper ended a pulsating clash in the 104th minute.

Brentford: Flekken, Roerslev (Maupay 86), Zanka, Ajer, Collins, Lewis-Potter (Ghoddos 86); Jensen, Yarmoliuk (Damsgaard 69), Janelt, Toney, Wissa (Mbeumo 70)

Unused subs: Strakosha, Ji-soo, Trevitt, Baptiste, Onyeka

Manchester United: Onana, Dalot, Lindelof (Martínez 69), Varane (Maguire 45), Wan-Bissaka, McTominay, Mainoo (Casemiro 80), Garnacho (Antony 58), Fernandes, Rashford (Mount 80), Højlund

Unused subs: Heaton, Amrabat, Kambwala, Eriksen

Attendance: 17,138

Frank: Manchester United’s draw was better than 4-0 win

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank believes Saturday night’s 1-1 draw was a better performance than the 4-0 win over Manchester United last season.

The quality of the Bees’ performance was highlighted by the fact that they became the first team to take more than 80 touches inside the opposition box in a Premier League match this campaign.

Frank stated: “I think this performance was one or two levels higher than the 4-0 win against them. That’s the interesting thing about football, why it’s so strange and difficult to deal with and understand sometimes.

“But what a performance and I hope all the fans are really proud of the team; We are playing against a more or less strong Manchester United. We’ve got all our back four out, we’ve got our left-back out on loan, we’ve got our captain out, but we destroyed Man United in so many ways, 31 shots.

“I am very happy to have gotten at least one point; If not, I would probably have lost faith in the great football gods!

“But it’s incredible that we didn’t get the three points today.”

Ajer: United achieve one of Brentford’s best performances in the Premier League

Kristoffer Ajer believes Brentford’s performance against Manchester United on Saturday was one of the team’s best in the Premier League.

“It was a crazy game,” he said. “We played one of our best games in the Premier League and created a lot of chances. On another day we won quite comfortably.

“When they scored 1-0 it was a punch in the face for the whole team, but fortunately we managed to tie.”

Ajer added: “We defended very well, which is the most important thing. It was an unfortunate goal: two tackles, two deflections that bounced and a good shot.

“The mentality of the group is fantastic. It was difficult to concede the goal, but I knew we would create more opportunities.”


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