Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had warned his players to be ready for “a proper fight” against “nasty” Brentford before their dramatic 3-3 draw yesterday.
The Reds came into the game in west London top of the table and with a good chance to increase their lead over rivals Chelsea and Manchester United, who both suffered defeats before their match on Saturday evening.
But they failed to make the most of the opportunity as the newly-promoted Bees battled in impressive fashion to take a well-earned point.
Ethan Pinnock put them 1-0 ahead from a well-worked free-kick routine before Diogo Jota headed in Jordan Henderson’s deep cross to equalise.
Mohamed Salah side-footed in from Fabinho’s perfectly-weighted long ball to make it 2-1, but Brentford immediately hit back through Vitaly Janelt’s close-range goal.
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Curtis Jones rifled Liverpool ahead once more via a deflection, yet after Salah missed a one-on-one chance to make the game safe, substitute Yoane Wissa dinked a composed finish over Alisson to complete the scoring.
The match was notable for its physical, blood-and-thunder style, with Brentford strikers Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo giving centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip a torrid time.
While Klopp paid tribute to the way Thomas Frank’s side had earned promotion from the Championship, he also knew the type of game his players must be ready for.
“I’m not surprised, that’s the only way you can get up as a team like Brentford,” he said before the match.
“On the pitch, they are a little bit nasty, so they don’t hesitate to do the things I don’t like so much, so that’s fine we have to be ready for a proper fight tonight.
“It’s clear that they will give their absolute everything. If we give our absolute everything it will be a proper match, if we give 90 per cent then it was a waste of time to come here.”
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Liverpool remain unbeaten and top of the Premier League on 14 points from six matches, a point better off than Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Everton, but Brighton can take top spot with victory over Crystal Palace on Monday.
After the match, Klopp was full of praise for Brentford, but was left to rue his side’s missed chances.
“They deserved their three goals for the way they played. We obviously couldn’t deal with the long balls today but we should have scored more goals,” he told Sky Sports.
“They deserved it. I don’t think you can control them much better, we created a lot of clear-cut chances but couldn’t deal with them defensively.
“These things happen. We should have scored more. If we win 3-2 or 4-3 we still have these struggles defensively. Toney and Mbeumo did really well. Brentford deserved a point.
“I have no problem with accepting when you play this kind of football. That’s football. You have to create things to deserve to win.
“They deserved a point as well because they put up a proper fight. I respect that a lot. In the end there were situations we should do better – and then it could be a completely different game.”