Brentford looked to kickstart their Premier League campaign with three points against their London rivals – who would line up without Harry Kane for the first time. How Spurs would fare without their talisman would become evident on Sunday afternoon, though kickoff was delayed by around ten minutes at the Gtech Community Stadium due to a sanitation issue within the ground.
BRE: Flekken; Henry, Ajer, Pinnock, Collins, Hickey; Janelt, Nørgaard, Jensen; Wissa, Mbuemo
TOT: Vicario; Udogie, van de Ven, Romero, Emerson; Bissouma, Skipp; Son, Maddison, Kulusevski; Richarlison
With Ange Postecoglou taking charge of this Spurs team in a competitive league fixture for the first time, it looked as though his defence would be dealt an early blow through the loss of Cristian Romero following a head injury sustained after just three minutes. The Argentine was fine to continue, and his on-pitch presence paid off merely eight minutes later – as he dashed into the six-yard box to nod James Maddison’s free-kick delivery into the back of the net.
That would be his last involvement in the match though, with the defender substituted out soon after after being deemed unfit to continue. His withdrawal coincided with a sustained period of Brentford pressure, with Bryan Mbuemo’s powerful drive towards the bottom corner pushed wide by Vicario.
The goalkeeper was called upon rather frequently as the hosts looked to take full advantage of Romero’s absence, as Yoane Wissa attempted an acrobatic overhead kick from close-range – but the shotstopper was able to collect.
But as the half-hour mark approached, it was a spot-kick that saw the Bees draw level. Son Heung-min had been found to have clipped Mathias Jensen in a desperate bid to dispossess the Dane, and after a VAR review, Mbuemo slotted a composed effort into the bottom corner from twelve yards.
And just ten minutes after restoring parity at the Gtech Community Stadium, Brentford took the lead – cueing scenes of sheer jubilation among the home support. Rico Henry’s dash to the byline saw the defender flick a low ball back into the box for Wissa, with the forward’s strike settling in the back of the net after a hefty deflection from Micky van de Ven.
Eleven minutes of first-half stoppage time would pay dividends for the visitors though, with Maddison registering his second assist of the game on his competitive debut for Spurs. The ex-Leicester City midfielder’s spin on the edge of the penalty box allowed him to feed the onrushing Emerson Royal, who smashed a rifling effort into the bottom-left corner from distance – handing the Lilywhites a much-needed equaliser before the break.
Yet Brentford would look to reap the rewards of their impressive attacking impetus as stoppage time wore on, with another rapid dash from Henry down the left flank picking out Mbuemo at the far post. Despite having an open goal to aim for, the striker missed the opportunity to net his second goal of the afternoon by blasting his volleyed attempt off-target.
But despite Tottenham’s bright start to the second half, it was Brentford that benefitted from the better opportunities as the hour mark drew nearer – though Mikkel Damsgaard saw his effort from fifteen yards out or so stopped by Vicario.
Keen to take the lead once again, Spurs looked to pressure Mark Flekken into making an error as Son attempted to turn Dejan Kulusevski’s cross into the back of the net. The goalkeeper held firm though, denying the captain’s low drive that was seemingly destined to creep in at the bottom corner.
The hosts thought they would be granted an opportunity to restore their lead with ten minutes left to play in West London as Kevin Schade tumbled to the ground after a challenge from Micky van de Ven inside the area – but a swift VAR review found that the Dutchman hadn’t committed a foul, and play was permitted to continue.
Despite producing arguably the best performance seen from Spurs in quite some time, Ange Postecoglou’s side were forced to settle for a point at the Gtech Community Stadium. The lack of Harry Kane didn’t seem to pose too much of a problem for the Australian manager though, who will be impressed by James Maddison’s two contributions from midfield. Tottenham return to Premier League action next Saturday as they host Manchester United, while Brentford will make the short trip along the Thames to Craven Cottage.