Bees draw with Leeds in crucial promotion clash

Brentford 1 Leeds 1

Promotion-chasing Brentford escaped with a point when a win would have taken them into second place.

The Bees had to defend stoutly against a highly determined Leeds, who arrived in west London second in the table, despite a recent stuttering run of form.

Although Brentford went ahead through a fortuitous 25th-minute goal by Said Benrahma in the first half, Marcelo Bielsa’s impressive visitors set the tone. And while Leeds grabbed a leveller through Liam Cooper in the 36th minute, their lack of potency up front ensured an ultimate stalemate.

The Bees were able to field an unchanged line-up from the one which edged out Middlesbrough 3-2 in dramatic style at home on Saturday.

Both sides made a fast start – and it was Leeds who were most determined, fashioning a good opportunity on 12 minutes. Jack Harrison burst into the Brentford penalty area, eluding the half-hearted challenge of Ethan Pinnock, but the midfielder lacked power in an eventual shot which was easily saved by David Raya.

The Bees gradually inched their way back in terms of possession, with Christian Norgaard going close with a raking shot, the immediate precursor to the hosts surprisingly breaking the deadlock.

With Leeds keeper Kiko Casilla needlessly losing control of a Liam Cooper back-pass, Benrahma was on hand to stroke the ball home with ease.

Leeds – under major scrutiny after only one win in their past five league games – almost levelled straightaway but Brentford had Raya to thank for turning over a fierce left-footed volley by Pablo Hernandez.

Still, Bielsa’s men didn’t have to wait long to level.

Cooper was on hand to prod home a loose ball from a corner by Ben White, with the Brentford rearguard far too static in clearing the danger.

The Yorkshire outfit retrieved their earlier grit and ended the first half the stronger – a clever diving header by Helder Costa almost caught Raya cold only for the ball to go inches wide.

As Leeds began to dominate again after the interval they should have gone in front only for, firstly, Costa to shoot weakly at Raya and Patrick Bamford blasting over the bar, with the Bees pinned back by the visitors’ sheer physicality and athleticism. Indeed, Brentford had not been dominated at Griffin Park in such a manner all season.

Frank sent on Emiliano Marcondes for the injured Josh Dasilva, but the customary lightning touches of the forward line of Benrahma, Ollie Watkins and Bryan Mbuemo were largely absent.

Bielsa will lament Leeds’ lack of finishing power to accompany what was an otherwise vibrant performance. As such, this will be viewed very much as a point gained on the night by Brentford, who weathered an intense storm late on.

Brentford: Raya, Dalsgaard, Jenavier, Pinnock, Henry, Jensen (Fosu 88), Norgaard, Dasilva (Marcondes 63), Mbuemo (Baptiste 88), Watkins, Benrahma.