Ivan Toney scored his 25th goal of the season as Brentford hit back from conceding a goal after only 26 seconds to earn a priceless win.
Toney calmly tucked the ball home from eight yards out, after Bryan Mbeumo flicked on Henrik Dalsgaard’s cross, to complete a comeback which had looked very unlikely at the interval.
Brentford made the worst possible start by conceding a goal after only 26 seconds to Jacob Brown, after another mistake by David Raya, and their first-half performance was as poor as their whole display at Coventry last Saturday.
But they looked a different team after the break, presumably after a half-time rocket from manager Thomas Frank, and Vitaly Janelt thundered home the equaliser from the edge of the area, before Toney won it late on.
With promotion rivals Swansea and Watford both losing, the result saw the Bees go three points clear in second place and four points behind leaders Norwich, who play tomorrow and who they face on Wednesday.
The calamitous start to the match came when stand-in left-back Mad Bech Sorensen passed back to Raya inside the area. The Bees goalkeeper, who gave away the second goal at Coventry, managed to pass straight to Stoke’s Tommy Smith, who laid the ball square to Brown to score. It was the seventh time in eight games that Brentford have gone behind.
There were few other chances in the first half, although Raya did deny Nick Powell – while Brentford’s only effort came from Winston Reid, who headed Saman Ghoddos’s corner just over the bar.
However, the Bees were revitalised after the break, and started running at the Stoke defence in a way they had not done in the first half.
The breakthrough came when Janelt – their best player on the day – picked up a loose ball outside the area, took a touch and hammered it into the net for his third goal of the season.
Ghoddos then had a shot tipped over by Angus Gunn, before Stoke woke up and Reid brilliantly headed Jordan Cousins’ hooked shot off the line.
Christian Norgaard then came on for his first league appearance since October following his lengthy injury lay-off and within two minutes, Toney hit the winner.
Brentford: Raya, Dalsgaard, Sorensen, Reid, Pinnock, Janelt (Norgaard 77), Dasilva (Jensen 59), Ghoddos (Marcondes 86), Mbeumo, Fosu (Canos 59), Toney.