Yoane Wissa’s late strike earned Brentford a point against Liverpool in a pulsating 3-3 thriller in west London to deny the visitors a three-point Premier League lead.
“It’s what we dream for as kids,” man of the match Vitaly Janelt told Sky Sports after full-time, with Wissa’s goal capping a sensational game of football at the Brentford Community Stadium, where Liverpool twice threw away leads and the Bees ensured they had no regrets come the final whistle.
The hosts had even managed to stun the Premier League leaders early on through Ethan Pinnock’s close-range finish (26) before Diogo Jota levelled things up with a bullet header five minutes later.
David Raya pulled off a wonder save to deny the forward again before half-time, but was beaten by a silky Mohamed Salah finish nine minutes after, only after a VAR check had overturned the assistant referee’s initial decision to deny the goal for offside.
Janelt sneaked Brentford level with a header which just crossed the line (63) before Liverpool responded quickly again, and Curtis Jones’ long-range effort deflected off Kristoffer Ajer and beyond Raya’s grasp (67).
It was fitting the outcome should be decided by a moment of late drama as Wissa, only on as a substitute four minutes earlier, lifted the ball over Alisson to bring Brentford level again (82) to extend Liverpool’s lead at the top to a solitary point, while the Bees jump above Tottenham into ninth.
Brentford: Raya (7), Ajer (7), Jansson (7), Pinnock (7), Canos (7), Janelt (8), Norgaard (6), Onyeka (7), Henry (7), Mbeumo (7), Toney (7).
Subs: Zanka (6), Baptiste (6), Wissa (7).
Liverpool: Alisson (5), Alexander-Arnold (5), Matip (6), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (6), Fabinho (7), Henderson (7), Jones (7), Salah (7), Jota (7), Mane (6).
Subs: Firmino (5).
Man of the match: Vitaly Janelt
How Brentford fought back to deny Liverpool
“We will go out there and do our very best to win the game, we’re not thinking about anything else,” Thomas Frank told Sky Sports ahead of the toughest test of his Brentford career. Even before Mbeumo’s goalbound effort was hacked off the line by Joel Matip 11 minutes in, it was clear he was sticking to his word.
By then, Salah had already seen a shot of his own come inches from opening the scoring before Ajer’s last-ditch clearance rescued the hosts.
The Bees’ determination to play on the front foot left a defensively shaky Liverpool concerned, and forged the breakthrough 26 minutes in. A perfectly executed training-ground move from a free-kick gave Canos space on the right to cross low, and from Ivan Toney’s flick, Pinnock stole in at the far post to stun the league leaders.
In an end-to-end first half, the speed of Liverpool’s equaliser five minutes later came as no surprise. Jordan Henderson’s back-post cross was excellent but should still have been won by Ajer, who instead lost out to allow 5ft 10ins Jota to power a header into the bottom corner.
Raya produced a miraculous save to deny him a second before half-time when Jones hit the post from distance and Jota expecting to slot into an empty net, pulled himself up off the ground to palm the shot away.
Nine minutes into the second half he was beaten by a wonderfully nonchalant finish by Salah, who was initially denied his 100th top-flight Liverpool goal before a VAR intervention showed he was onside and put him into club record books as the fastest player to achieve the feat for the Reds.
The Bees’ defence, largely steadfast since promotion, was cut apart for that goal and Liverpool’s normally watertight backline was similarly out of sorts as Janelt nodded in an equaliser nine minutes later, once Pontus Jansson had been given time to fire against the bar from Canos’ cross.
There was no time for either side to stop and catch their breath. In an instant, Jones fired in the third goal of the second period, beating Raya with a long-range effort courtesy of a cruel deflection off Ajer’s boot.
Salah missed a glorious chance to extend the lead, lifting a shot onto the roof of the net when one-on-one with Raya and Liverpool never looked comfortable seeing the game out with more than 20 minutes to go.
Sure enough, eight minutes from time, they were caught out again by a cross from the right, which fell for Wissa to dink over Alisson and spark pandemonium in the stands.
The visitors threw caution to the wind at that point, throwing men forward in search of a late winner, and nearly found one as Jansson’s touch from Sadio Mane’s cross had to be palmed away by Raya to avoid a last-gasp own goal.
That chance, finally, proved the last moment of drama in a pulsating end-to-end clash in west London, which kept Liverpool within touching distance of their rivals but did lift them a point further away from Chelsea and Manchester United after their respective losses.
What the managers said…
Brentford head coach Thomas Frank told Sky Sports: “We went toe to toe with one of the three best teams in the country at this moment in time, one of the best teams in Europe. I think we got a well-earned point. We were brave throughout. You need a little bit of luck.
“Both teams wanted to go for the win. It was a massive point against a top team.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told Sky Sports: “It was a wild ride. 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.
“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.
Man of the match – Vitaly Janelt
Brentford’s German midfielder does not score many, but had a hand in the Bees’ opener before netting one for himself to level at 2-2 in an excellent personal performance.
He made as many tackles as any of his team-mates (2), completed more passes (23) and made more key passes (2) than anyone in a Brentford shirt in an all-action performance at both ends.
Brentford face a London derby with a trip to West Ham next Sunday; kick-off at 2pm.
Liverpool’s next game is further afield, away in Porto on Tuesday night in the Champions League; kick-off at 8pm.