Match report: Brentford 1 United 1

Saturday 30 March 2024 22:15

Manchester United and Brentford shared two goals in added time on Saturday night, ensuring a dramatic contest ended in a 1-1 draw and a point for both teams.

United were below par for much of the 90 minutes, but seemed to have stolen an unlikely three points when Mason Mount converted his first goal for the club in the 96th minute.

However, almost immediately after play restarted, Brentford levelled things up, when Kristoffer Ajer slotted home from inside the area.

It was a devastating blow for the Reds, who were desperate to respond to victories earlier in the day for fellow top-four rivals Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur, but Brentford provided stern opposition and enjoyed far more attempts on goal over the course of the evening.
Man Utd vs Brentford
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Despite the rousing pre-amble to kick-off, with the Brentford PA blasting Beatles anthem Hey Jude, United began the game confidently, knocking the ball around like a side that had just knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup.

But after a controlled opening 15 minutes, where both sides traded speculative attempts and the Reds hogged the ball, it was Brentford who slowly emerged as the first half's dominant force. Bees fans have not seen their team win at the Gtech Community Stadium since mid-January, but you wouldn't have guessed it from the majority of the opening 45.

A series of corners around the 20-minute mark was the first real sign that United were in for a thorough examination, and a Mathias Jorgensen header was the best effort on goal from five solid minutes of pressure. From a United perspective, there was fine, resilient defending from Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane.

But there was no let-up from the hosts. First Ivan Toney hit the post from Yoane Wissa's astute first-time through ball, and soon after Jorgensen came equally close, when his header clipped the top of the bar. The woodwork had been rattled twice, and the quality deliveries from Mathias Jensen, in particular, kept the United back four on edge.
As the half wound to a close, Toney and Wissa both fired over, as we struggled to break out of our own half or sustain any really incisive periods of possession.

When the whistle went, the only satisfaction was that we were not behind, and that the break would give Ten Hag an opportunity to sort out one or two things.
Thomas Frank would undoubtedly have been the happier coach, but any pleasure would surely have been bittersweet: Brentford had managed 13 attempts but just one on target – the same number as United.

Watching on, you just hoped that United could find a ruthless attacking streak after the interval, before the Bees made one of their chances count.
Andre Onana was a busy man for the visitors.

In the first 10 minutes after the restart, there were flickers of a greater attacking impulse from the Reds, when Fernandes and Dalot shot powerfully from distance, and then the skipper teed up Rasmus Hojlund for our best chance of the game thus far. Unfortunately, Hojlund slipped when played in, just within the area, though he still managed to draw a reflex save from Brentford goalkeeper Mark Flekken.

But before long, however, our opponents began to reassert the pressure they had spent so much of the first half imparting. Wissa volleyed wide, Toney shot over and then insult was added to injury, as Lindelof became the second United centre-half to leave the field with injury, following Varane's removal at the break.

Lisandro Martinez came on for his first appearance in nearly two months, but even he could not stem the tide of chances for the home team. Toney had the ball in the net, after a brilliant curling ball from the newly introduced Bryan Mbeumo, but VAR deemed the England international to have been just a hair's breadth offside when the pass was played. Soon after, Mbeumo himself had a great chance and rattled the bar.

Licha's return was a bright note on a challenging night for United.
Ten Hag turned to his bench once more, introducing Casemiro and Mount for Kobbie Mainoo and Marcus Rashford, respectively, but still the chances continued to flow for the hosts.

As we approached the final minute of regulation time, Diogo Dalot clashed with Brentford forward Neal Maupay, leading to a lengthy stoppage as head injuries to both were assessed by the medics. It also meant the fourth official raised a board signalling nine added minutes. Could United find an unlikely winner?

Incredibly, it looked like they could. It wasn't pretty, starting with a bit of a stramash on the edge of the penalty area, before Hojlund's strength helped Casemiro pick up the ball. Mason Mount was spare to his left, and the Brazilian found him with a short pass. Steadying himself, Mount picked his spot and calmly slotted the ball past Flekken, inspiring scenes of bedlam in the away end.

But cruelly,  the Bees weren't done. Launching themselves immediately up the field, a hoof over United's back line landed at Toney's feet, and the clever striker controlled the ball before pulling it back towards the penalty spot where Ajer arrived to side-foot it through a thicket of bodies to equalise. It was a painful final twist for the Reds, who thought Mount's goal had sealed a vital three points, but Brentford more than merited a point given their contribution to the contest.

Brentford: Flekken; Jorgensen, Ajer, Collins; Roerslev (Maupay 85), Yarmoliuk (Damsgaard 71), Jensen, Janelt, Lewis-Potter (Ghoddos 85); Toney (c), Wissa (Mbeumo 71).
Unused substitutes: Strakosha, Onyeka, Baptiste, Trevitt, Kim.
Bookings: Wissa, Jorgensen, Maupay.
Goals: Ajer 90+9.
United: Onana; Dalot, Varane (Maguire 46), Lindelof (Martinez 69), Wan-Bissaka; McTominay, Mainoo (Casemiro 80); Garnacho (Antony 59), Fernandes (c), Rashford (Mount 80); Hojlund.

Unused substitutes:
Heaton, Kambwala, Amrabat, Eriksen. 
Bookings: Wan-Bissaka, McTominay.
Goals: Mount 90+6.