Brentford 3-1 Swansea City
Ollie Watkins’ double inspired an emphatic Brentford win to move the Bees up to third with a victory over Swansea City.
Bryan Mbeumo opened the scoring for the Bees in the 19th minute, heading home a well-worked corner.
Brentford’s lead was doubled five minutes later as Watkins converted an acrobatic volley, but André Ayew punished David Raya for spilling the ball, drawing one back for the visitors in the 65th minute.
Watkins then secured three vital points at Griffin Park, scoring his second of the game in the 86th minute.
The two sides entered the fixture in sixth and seventh position respectively, each registering two wins in the last three and split only by goal difference in the league table.
Mbeumo struck first 19 minutes in, breaking the deadlock by diverting Ethan Pinnock’s header across goal into the back of the net from a well-worked corner routine. Five minutes later, Watkins doubled the Bees lead, skilfully volleying Rico Henry’s cross past Freddie Woodman in the Swans net.
The first real chance for the visitors fell to Tom Carroll just shy of the 30-minute mark, but he found his effort flying over the bar.
Just 10 minutes after the break, Kamohelo Mokotjo came close to extending Brentford’s lead after some silky footwork, however, his shot flashed just wide of the post.
Ayew drew one back for the Swans just after the hour, tapping home Bersant Celina’s long-range effort which should have been dealt with more comfortably by David Raya.
In the 82nd minute, Benrahma came close after finding himself through on goal, however, some expert defending prevented his shot from troubling Woodman.
Watkins added his 15th of the season with three minutes to go, sealing the result. The number 11 calmly found the bottom right corner after finding himself in space behind the Swansea backline as they pushed for an equaliser.
Speaking after the game, Swansea manager Steve Cooper rued his side’s first-half performance, and how it left them with a real uphill challenge for the remainder of the game.
“The first-half performance was short, we didn’t do the basics well enough. The non-negotiables in terms of getting up to the ball, putting pressure on the opponent, looking after it when we get it, playing forward and being creative,” explained Cooper.
“In the end, we gave away two soft goals, one from a set play and one where we’ve let the ball come into the box too easy and we’ve not marked. We’re really frustrated of the first-half performance, but we’ve only got ourselves to blame for it.”
Meanwhile, Brentford manager Thomas Frank was full of praise for his side’s defensive performance as well as their attacking quality.
“We’ve improved so much this year, the desire to defend as a team and the love to defend as a team together is so much better,” said Frank.
“If you defend better than the opposition’s front three, we are one step in front of our opponent, and we will have a very good chance of winning the game.
“Ollie was fantastic, not only because of the two goals but his work ethic again, his leadership, his awareness, his talking, he was fantastic. The front three they’re getting better and better and for me that is frightening.”
Brentford’s Boxing Day victory moves them up to third in the Championship table, one point ahead of Sheffield Wednesday. Premier League promotion continues to be a realistic aim for the Bees this season.
Brentford are back in action on Sunday with an away fixture to 12th placed Millwall.