FROM GTECH COMMUNITY STADIUM – Aston Villa are now unbeaten in nine matches after scoring late on to earn a 1-1 draw at Brentford.
Thomas Frank’s Bees were dominant for much of the afternoon but were let down by some poor finishing and they are now without a win in six matches.
Meanwhile, Unai Emery’s side continue their push for Europe, though missed the chance to move level on points with fifth-placed Tottenham.
Aston Villa went close to taking a second-minute lead when Emi Buendia was given the freedom to get through midfield and run at the defence, with his shot from the edge of the area towards the near post tipped behind by David Raya.
Soon after, the Bees launched a counter and had a sight of goal of their own. Rico Henry’s quick pass between the lines found Ivan Toney, and he switched play for Bryan Mbeumo, flicking the ball over Alex Moreno’s head and seeing a low strike held by Emi Martinez.
A low cross from Kevin Schade then appeared to be heading into Toney’s path, only for him to be thwarted by a late claim from Martinez.
Another sweeping move saw Vitaly Janelt appear to put the ball on a plate for Mbeumo to tap in, but the Cameroonian was thwarted by a brilliant last-ditch challenge from Moreno.
Brentford were continuing to hit Aston Villa in transition, with Mbeumo winning the ball back and releasing Toney, who in turn slipped through Schade. The German found the England striker with a low ball into the box and his fierce effort was well saved by Martinez.
At the other end, John McGinn cut in from the right and let fly from 20 yards, with his looping effort bouncing just past the post.
Both sides were dealt key injury concerns as Christian Norgaard and Martinez both had to be withdrawn at half-time.
Just after the break, Toney had to stoop low to head a cross from Mbeumo towards goal, with substitute goalkeeper Robin Olsen plucking the ball out of the sky.
Olsen was then given a reprieve when Brentford squandered a golden chance to break the deadlock. Mbeumo’s clever ball over the top was headed on by Schade and spilled by the Swede, allowing the Bees number nine to collect the ball, only to somehow fire wide when faced with an open goal.
Another chance went begging when Toney played a similar pass through for Mbeumo to latch onto, but he skied his half-volley and Aston Villa were let off the hook once more.
But the visitors were finally made to pay just after the hour mark when Toney ghosted in behind Ashley Young to tap in a wonderful whipped cross from Mbeumo.
Emery made three changes to try and stem the tide and his side had a glorious opportunity to equalise entering the final 20 minutes, with Jacob Ramsey’s toe-poke from close range flying just past the top corner.
Brentford should have killed the game off when yet another delicious cross from Mbeumo fell to the feet of Frank Onyeka, but he couldn’t sort them out and the ball bounced out of play with the goal gaping.
And the hosts were made to pay for their wastefulness when a scramble in the area saw Buendia tee up Douglas Luiz, who kept his cool and picked out the far corner.
Yoane Wissa thought he had grabbed a last-minute winner after meeting the end of a Mbeumo toe-poke, only for a late offside flag and lengthy VAR check to deny him.
GK: David Raya – 6/10 – Important save to deny Buendia early on. Kicking was exemplary.
RB: Aaron Hickey – 6/10 – Linked up well with Mbeumo down the right flank with constant give-and-gos.
CB: Ethan Pinnock – 7/10 – Snuffed up former teammate Watkins.
CB: Ben Mee – 7/10 – Dealt with nearly everything thrown at him and was dominant in his battles with Aston Villa’s attackers.
LB: Rico Henry – 5/10 – A quieter day for the left-back with other outlets used instead.
DM: Christian Norgaard – 6/10 – Booked for a cynical first-half foul but generally did well to control the tempo. Worryingly hooked at the break.
CM: Mathias Jensen – 7/10 – Switched play effortlessly and opened the pitch up with his range of passing.
CM: Vitaly Janelt – 5/10 – Provided an extra body in attack which often meant he was guilty of not tracking his runners.
RW: Bryan Mbeumo – 8/10 – After a wasteful and hesitant first half, Mbeumo came alive after the break and took the game by the scruff of the neck.
CF: Ivan Toney – 8/10 – Utilised more with link-up along the floor instead of as a battering ram. Emphatic finish to open the scoring.
LW: Kevin Schade – 6/10 – Continuously caused Young problems with his pace and trickery, but the open goal miss was woeful.
Frank Onyeka (46′ for Norgaard) – 6/10
Yoane Wissa (75′ for Schade) – 6/10
Mikkel Damsgaard (75′ for Janelt) – 5/10
Josh Dasilva (90′ for Jensen) – N/A
Thomas Frank – 6/10 – Brentford played with intensity and aggression but were let down by dropping off late on.
GK: Emi Martinez – 6/10 – Claimed several crosses high and low before succumbing to injury.
RB: Ashley Young – 3/10 – Skinned time and time again by Schade before allowing Toney to race in behind him for the opening goal with his final action.
CB: Ezri Konsa – 6/10 – Quick on his feet but had plenty on his plate.
CB: Tyrone Mings – 6/10 – Lacked urgency but this wasn’t why Aston Villa were poor for much of the afternoon.
LB: Alex Moreno – 4/10 – Carved apart in his duels with Mbeumo. Promptly hooked after Brentford broke the deadlock.
CM: Leander Dendoncker – 4/10 – Offered little control in midfield.
CM: Douglas Luiz – 8/10 – Often won the ball back before immediately giving it away again and vice-versa, though came up with the telling goal contribution.
RM: John McGinn – 5/10 – A fair bit predictable on the ball. Tucked into midfield to help a losing battle.
AM: Emi Buendia – 7/10 – Dropped deep to escape Mee and offer ingenuity, eventually grabbing an assist.
LM: Jacon Ramsey – 6/10 – Dribbled inside from the left to get at the Bees and was the visitors’ sharpest attacker.
CF: Ollie Watkins – 4/10 – Provided little on his first return to Brentford.
Robin Olsen (46′ for Martinez) – 4/10 – Martinez brought stability, Olsen did not.
Lucas Digne (66′ for Moreno) – 6/10
Bertrand Traore (66′ for Dendoncker) – 6/10
Calum Chambers (66′ for Young) – 5/10
Unai Emery – 5/10 – Aston Villa had to cling on in a battling second half but you need some luck on these unbeaten runs.