A superb individual performance from Said Benrahma inspired Brentford to a 5-2 comeback against Blackburn, ending their opponent’s run of four straight league wins.
Blackburn have only lost one of their last nine trips to London and they looked to make it one in ten by storming into a 2-0 lead within the first ten minutes through Bradley Dack and Danny Graham.
But Brentford – without a win against Rovers since March 2016 – halved the deficit in the 13th minute when Benrahma found the bottom-right corner with a curled strike.
An Ollie Watkins second-half brace turned the game on its head, while Neal Maupay and Sergi Canos added a glossy fourth and fifth to ensure Brentford’s unbeaten league run continues.
Only two of Blackburn’s last 12 league goals have come in the first half, but they had one after two minutes at Griffin Park. It was the first substantial chance of the game and Dack guided Adam Armstrong’s cross low into the bottom-right corner for his 11th league goal of the season.
Thomas Frank introduced a 3-4-3 formation in December to underpin Brentford’s attacking threat with greater defensive solidity, but Blackburn continually broke into space on their right and created trouble. Dack was the next, and Julian Jeanvier felt it necessary to foul him in the tenth minute.
Harrison Reed stood over the set piece and whipped it into the box. Danny Graham – his eyes trained on the ball’s fight – leaped highest and thundered his header from the centre of a crowded box into the top-right corner.
The landscape looked bleak for Brentford. But with the crowd urging them on, 80 minutes remaining and Frank’s message to “keep believing” still echoing in their minds, they halved the deficit just three minutes later. This is a side unbeaten in six Championship games, remember?
Benrahma, epitomising this newfound resilience better than anyone, burst into the box with such vigour that his marker could only lie in his wake as he curled his impossible-to-save right-footed shot into the far corner from the left side of the box.
He was involved in the build-up to the goal, too, exchanging a one-two with Maupay in the middle third before bursting a lung to reach the box.
Momentum subsequently swung. Now it was Brentford’s turn to take control of the game.
Benrahma saw his free kick from a difficult angle tipped onto the bar by David Raya in the 33rd minute, while club captain Romaine Sawyers – looking to add to his three assists in the last two league games – blazed his shot over from the resulting corner. Even Maupay couldn’t get his effort on target just before the break.
Parity perhaps should have been restored, though Daniel Bentley did have to get down low to his left to tip Armstrong’s free kick wide in added time.
Six of Brentford’s last nine league goals have come in the second half and both Benrahma and Maupay could have equalised immediately after halftime. The former’s shot was blocked two minutes after the restart, while Maupay found only the side netting four minutes later.
But who put him through on goal after sending Elliot Bennett the wrong way with a clever piece of skill? Benrahma, again. The Algerian had been the man making things happen at Griffin Park and it wasn’t surprising when he popped up with an assist in the 58th minute, his eighth in the league this season.
Admittedly it was only a layoff from a free kick, but it’s a testament to his persistent danger throughout. Watkins, though, powerfully put his foot through the ball and it swerved its way into the bottom-right corner through a sea of bodies to finally level the score.
And in the 73rd minute, the Bees deservedly led. Blackburn switched off defensively and Watkins added his second of the game with a free header from the centre of the box to complete the comeback.
The crowd wanted more. The players could sense Blackburn’s vulnerability and the Bees added a fourth six minutes later as Maupay coolly slotted his 17th league goal of the season under Raya. He had Benrahma to thank for the through ball, before the Algerian came off to rapturous applause.
Full of confidence, the Bees kept buzzing and Canos – the birthday boy on for Benrahma – tucked away a fifth goal in added time from Watkins’ assist. ‘2-0 and you messed it up,’ or something slightly more profane, came the chant from the home fans.
Featured photograph/Oli Stein