Brentford 1-0 Manchester City: Bees do the double over Premier League champions


Manchester City’s 59th game of a marathon campaign ended in rare defeat. But, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you’ll know it’s the 60th and 61st that will truly define their season.

Pep Guardiola knows what lies ahead. History – or at least a crack of making it.

Here on the final day of the Premier League season Brentford defender Ethan Pinnock drilled home a late winner to inflict on City only their seventh loss in all competitions this season – and their first in 26 matches.

Of course, the loss has very little consequence – City’s fourth Premier League title in five seasons was wrapped last weekend.

You could tell, too. The less said about the intensity of their performance here at the Gtech Community Stadium the better.

That said, they’ll be happy with a 90 minutes that passed largely without incident – and more importantly a clean bill of health.

Their next 180 minutes of football, or more, won’t be so uneventful.

The nerves will jangle. The juices will flow. Immortality beckons for City – starting with their FA Cup Final against Manchester United on Saturday.

If they can triumph against their deadliest of rivals under Wembley’s arch then the temperature cranks up almost unbearably.

Just ask United’s 1998/99 side. The treble. Can they? We’re about to find out.

With regards to Brentford, we learned very little. They are a brilliant football team – a shining example of a club squeezing out every droplet of potential.

This victory merely underlined their excellence. They finished the season here like they’ve performed for most of it, playing front foot, assertive and breathless football.

MATCH FACTS 

Brentford: Raya, Hickey (Dasilva, 70), Pinnock, Mee, Henry, Zanka, Onyeka (Baptsiste, 70) Janely. Damsgaard (Schade, 70), Mbeumo (Roerslev, 89), Wissa (Ghoddos, 89)

Subs: Ajer, Strakosha, Baptiste, Roerslev, Stevens, Trevitt

Goals: Pinnock (85) 

Yellow cards: Wissa, Damsgaard, Janelt, Zanka 

Man City: Ederson, Walker, Ake (Charles, 63), Laporte, Phillips, Lewis, Gomez, Foden, Mahrez, Alvarez, Palmer

Subs: Stones, Gundogan, Haaland, Rodri, Oretga, Silva, Robertson, Knight 

What a team Thomas Frank has assembled. Keeping it together, however, is likely to prove easier said than done in the coming weeks.

Uncertainty surrounds a host of figures in this part of west London – none more so than their effervescent head coach.

With a number of Premier League jobs set to be available ahead of next season, Frank will unquestionably be of interest.

Of the clubs to have admired the German from a distance is managerless Tottenham. They certainly aren’t the only ones.

So far, Daniel Levy has focused his attentions elsewhere – but the Spurs chairman would do worse than trying to ascertain whether appointing Frank is at all possible.

He isn’t the only one attracting admiring glances. Their technical director Lee Dykes’ future is uncertain, as is goalkeeper David Raya’s.

All this before we mention the fact they’ll be without Ivan Toney until January due to his suspension for betting rule breaches.

That’s the price of success for the clubs the size of Brentford.

There’ll be no such concerns for City heading into next season, of course. They’ll continue to dominate regardless of how the next fortnight pans out.

Understandably, Guardiola rested his crown jewels – including newly crowned footballer of the year Erling Haaland – against Brentford given what’s on the horizon.

Yet, they started brightly; Cole Palmer forced Raya into the first save of the afternoon.

But with the chance of qualifying for Europe still mathematically possible ahead of this game, it wasn’t long before Brentford raised their game.

Yoane Wissa hit a post, though the effort would have ruled out for offside, before Ben Mee squandered two chances in quick succession just before half time.

Out of kilter with a pedestrian opening 45 minutes, the second half got off to a chaotic start.

Brentford were fuming they weren’t awarded a penally in the 54th minute after the ball appeared to strike Sergio Gomez on the hand.

Referee John Brooks didn’t budge. Frank, in contrast, wasn’t as placid, the Brentford head coach eventually booked for his furious protestations.

City rookie Shea Charles, 19, was introduced on in the 63rd minute as Guardiola, if he wasn’t already, switched his focus to the future.

For most of the second period Brentford were in the ascendancy – but without Toney they lacked a potent goal threat.

That was until the 85th minute when Brentford struck the winner after substitute Kevin Schade and Bryan Mbuemo combined to set-up Pinnock who duly converted.

Palmer missed three golden opportunities to equalise for City in injury time. But, in truth, no-one was really that fussed.

They will be from here on in, though.

 



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