Brentford completed a Sky Bet Championship double over neighbours Queens Park Rangers with a 3-1 win at Griffin Park. Yoann Barbet scored his first league goal for more than a year and Jota grabbed two more as The Bees added to their 2-0 win at Loftus Road before Christmas. The Bees were well worth the win, they led 1-0 at the break and Jota’s two goals came either side of one for the visitors from Joel Lynch, and the Brentford fans were given plenty to cheer on a sunny afternoon.
But the hosts did not have it all their own way. Daniel Bentley played his part in the win, making some key saves, and Barbet made a clearance that was adjudged to have stopped the ball going over the line but looked as if it may not have done so. QPR spent much of the afternoon on the attack and while their football was not easy on the eye on another day they would have scored at least one more and perhaps even earned a draw.
The game was very tight in the opening exchanges. The visitors came to Griffin Park with two solid banks of four and often had nine or ten men behind the ball. They were happy for Brentford to play in front of them, particularly before The Bees crossed the half way line and defend their clean sheet. The game was also stop-start for much of the first half hour. Referee James Adcock let a few early challenges go without sufficient punishment – particularly one by James Perch on Sergi Canós – and that enabled some niggly offences to be perpetrated with little fear of caution.
Brentford were the team trying to play the football while the game took shape. They looked to utilise their wide players – particularly Canós – with full backs Maxime Colin and Rico Henry keen to join in. There were early chances for The Bees with Canós pulling a shot in the side netting and QPR goalkeeper Alex Smithies saving at the feet of Lasse Vibe after the Danish striker had worked his way through but the hosts did not have complete control of the game.
The Bees did have the territorial advantage and Nico Yennaris saw a shot blocked before Vibe fired in to the side netting. Jota also had a shot blocked but at the other end Bentley was also in the game. He made a fine save when a Luke Freeman free kick was headed down by Matt Smith and Lynch diverted it towards the corner, the Brentford goalkeeper pushing it out full stretch to his right. And he should have been tested when Smith and Jamie Mackie nodded a long ball in to the path of Conor Washington but the QPR striker fired wide when well-placed.
Romaine Sawyers had a shot blocked at the other end before Brentford turned their territory in to a goal just past the half hour. Jota delivered a corner from the left, Harlee Dean’s presence caused chaos and the ball dropped to Barbet 12 yards out, he controlled and then bounced a shot in off the underside of the bar. The game had been even to that point but The Bees moved through the gears as confidence surged. Vibe had a shot blocked before, from the resulting corner, Yennaris headed wide.
Henry could have grabbed his first Brentford goal when Canós fed a Dean pass in to his path, he raced in to the box but his low shot was well saved by Smithies. Jota then skinned Jake Bidwell on the Brentford right and surged forward before shooting wide. It looked at that stage as if Brentford would make the game safe before the break, such was their dominance and Canós had another shot blocked after picking up a Ryan Woods pass.
But QPR regrouped. They started to get tight again in midfield, as they had done for much of the first half hour, and were working hard to stop The Bees taking control. They looked to get forward on the flanks and put crossed in to the box. When Freeman delivered one from the left it was met by Smith and Bentley saved superbly to his left before Washington lashed the loose ball over. Nedum Onuoha blasted wide after moving forward from the back before Massimo Luongo let fly from 25 yards and saw his shot dip late and clip the crossbar on its way over.
Brentford had to work hard to keep their lead in to the break and when Bidwell got forward to delivered a cross that Smith nodded down, Barbet was there to clear. But The Bees were resolute at the back and managed to get in to half time with the initiative, even if they did not have the momentum at the interval. They were soon on the front foot after the break, however, and a Barbet free kick in the opening minutes of the second period looked to be heading in before it hit the defensive wall.
Henry also fired over for The Bees after some pinball in the QPR box but the visitors were also on the front foot after the break. They introduced Kazenga LuaLua to give them even more attacking impetus and while that enabled Woods to get control of the game in midfield, when QPR went long to Smith – which they did regularly – they had more players in Brentford territory to profit from it. They also thought they had levelled ten minutes in to the second half when Washington met a deep Freeman corner and headed past Bentley, Barbet headed it out and the officials adjudged that he had prevented the goal but the Bees man appeared to nod the ball forwards on to the bar and out and on another day, that could have been the equalised.
And that proved to be a vital moment as Brentford went two up moments later. The ball was chipped forwards and Lynch beat Vibe to it but Colin reacted quickest and Lynch hacked down the Brentford defender as he looked to profit. Mr Adcock played a small advantage to allow Yennaris to shoot but pointed to the spot when the effort was blocked. Jota took the responsibility and sent Smithies the wrong way, rolling it in to the goalkeeper’s bottom left hand corner.
Lynch had his head in his hands but was quick to redeem himself. QPR won a free kick on the right, Freeman delivered and Lynch got a run on his man to power a header past Bentley and in. But Lynch was in the action again soon after, and not in a positive way. Yennaris spread the play from left to right and Jota’s first touch took him past Bidwell, he then weaved past the stumbling Lynch and slotted under Smithies to restore Brentford’s two goal lead.
Those three goals had come in just over 200 seconds and the game was moving at a frantic pace. QPR made changes – throwing more strikers on – as they chased the game and went on the attack. They were very direct and Dean and Barbet had to stand up strong with Woods, Colin and Henry tasked with picking up the second balls. Sawyers also did more than his fair share and enabled Brentford to get on the front foot whenever they could.
Bentley saved a Bidwell header and then one from Smith while at the other end Vibe got away from Onuoha and a snap shot forced a superb save low to his right by Smithies. The QPR goalkeeper then saved at the feet of substitute Florian Jozefzoon before a deep Jota free kick reached Barbet at the far side but he could not control and finish it off. A great run from Freeman allowed Idrissa Sylla a run at goal and he lifted the ball over Bentley but past the far post.
An extra seven minutes was added and that gave the visitors a boost as they sought two late goals. Bentley denied Smith and then kept out a Sylla header as QPR threw balls and bodies in to the penalty area. Smith also headed wide after Bidwell had got to the by-line and with seconds remaining that was the last chance. Mr Adcock brought the game to a close soon after to enable Brentford to move in to top ten in the Championship, record a fourth home win on the bounce and complete a first double over QPR since 1965.
Brentford: Bentley; Colin (sub Clarke 71 mins), Dean, Barbet, Henry; Woods; Jota, Yennaris, Sawyers, Canós (sub Jozefzoon 71 mins); Vibe (sub Shaibu 87 mins)
Subs (not used): Bonham, Egan, Kerschbaumer, Hofmann
Bookings: Jota (65 mins) (third of season)
Queens Park Rangers: Smithies; Perch, Onuoha, Lynch, Bidwell; Mackie (sub Sylla 66 mins), Goss (sub LuaLua h/t), Luongo, Freeman; Washington (sub Ngbakoto 68 mins), Smith
Subs (not used): Ingram, Wszołek, Furlong, Manning
Bookings: Freeman (42 mins), Perch (47 mins), Lynch (60 mins)