Liverpool capitalise on hopeless Brentford defending to kickstart title fight resurgence

Fabinho celebrates his goal for Liverpool against Brentford with team-mates Diogo Jota, Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino

Liverpool capitalised on some hopeless Brentford defending to kickstart their Premier League title fight resurgence with a routine 3-0 win.

The Reds struggled to break down the Bees but did go into the break ahead thanks to Fabinho’s header on the stroke of half-time. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also nodded in following the restart and Takumi Minamino added a third as the gap to Man City was reduced to 11 points with a game in hand.

Jurgen Klopp made two changes from the side that was held by 10-man Arsenal in the Carabao Cup on Thursday. Curtis Jones and Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced James Milner and Minamino.

Despite having been hammered 4-1 by Southampton in midweek, Brentford boss Thomas Frank made just one swap. Rico Henry replaced ex-Red Sergi Canos.

The visitors were forced into some early defensive action when the hosts had three corners in succession. The final result was Diogo Jota shooting over.

Trent Alexander-Arnold then went close with a zipping left-footed strike from range which went just past the right hand post.

The lively Jota drew the first yellow card of the game. Former Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer entered the book for his robust challenge.

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Virgil van Dijk thought he had given his side the lead soon after. Only the foot of goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez denied his low strike from a corner.

And despite relentless pressure, the Bees backline continued to stand firm.

Alvaro Fernandez punches clear with Diogo Jota nearby during Liverpool vs Brentford, January 2022

A rare foray forward for them presented an opportunity for a long throw, but the delivery wasn’t on point.

Vitaly Janelt had to be on hand in his own box to keep the scores level. He intercepted Andy Robertson’s volley before it could get to Roberto Firmino.

Up the other end, Ivan Toney capitalised on two defensive mistakes, first losing the ball in the box but then going close with a speculative effort from outside it.

But after Joel Matip had squandered a chance, Fabinho did break the deadlock in the 44th minute when an Alexander-Arnold corner was allowed to bounce to him at the back post.

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Golden chances at both ends

Liverpool started the second half as they had finished the first. Fernandez was forced into a couple of early saves including one from a 30-yard Fabinho effort.

Frank quickly made a substitution, taking Henry off for Canos.

Jones looked to impose himself on the game for Liverpool with a jinking run into the Brentford box. His eventual shot was gathered.

The 1-0 lead was made to look very slender when Bryan Mbeumo shot narrowly wide after being played in by Christian Norgaard.

It was nearly two, though, when Jota smashed the ball into the post, but Fernandez saved from Firmino’s rebounded effort.

The shot stopper had to be sharp again for another Jota shot before Shandon Baptiste was replaced by Yoane Wissa.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain heads in his goal for Liverpool against Brentford, January 2022

After the game got going again Oxlade-Chamberlain struck to make it 2-0 from Robertson’s wicked cross.

The goalscorer then hobbled off after appearing to roll his ankle.

His replacement, Minamino, took just three minutes to net a third. Brentford lost possession in their own box and Firmino squared for the Japan international to tap home.

Klopp handed Kaide Gordon, 17, his Premier League debut in place of Jota, while Milner came on for Firmino.

And it was nearly a dream first league appearance for the forward. He forced Fernandez into a save after Minamino had slipped him in.

Nevertheless, the game was over and Liverpool had secured the three points.

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