Brentford 1-4 Liverpool: Visitors give a four-star review in West London to extend league advantage to five points

With the home side never ending up on the losing side in the side’s historical head-to-head five-match Premier League chronicles, Brentford would have been confident of extending that record further against a Liverpool side that welcomed back the talismanic Mohamed Salah for the first time since his premature return from the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations.

BRE: Flekken; Mee, Ajer, Collins; Reguilón, Janelt, Nørgaard, Jensen, Roerslev; Maupay, Toney

LIV: Kelleher; Bradley, Konaté, van Dijk, Robertson; Mac Allister, Endō, Jones; Jota, Núñez, Díaz

Never on the losing side in consecutive head-to-head matches at Gtech Community Stadium, Liverpool began on the front foot, as only a brilliant double save from Mark Flekken kept out Conor Bradley’s initial effort and then the rebound from Diogo Jota.

In response to their visitors’ enterprising start in West London, the in-form figure of Ivan Toney – after three goals in his last four Premier League matches – forced Caoimhin Kelleher into an awe-inspiring save from a fierce free-kick from the fringes of the penalty area.

The talismanic Bees’ striker called Kelleher into action again not long after, as the deputising Liverpool goalie – with Alisson still missing with a problematic hamstring injury – pulled off another expert save.

However, it would be at the other end of the pitch where Liverpool would take a slender lead into half-time. Darwin Núñez looked up to see Flekken in goalkeeping no man’s land, allowing the Uruguayan international to audaciously chip the ball over the top of the stranded Brentford goalkeeper, following a clinical counter-attacking move from inside the Reds’ own-half.

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Liverpool lost Núñez during the break due to injury – adding to no longer being able to call upon the services of Jota after he got injured in the first half – but did not need long to wait long to double their lead. FIFA World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister skillfully got away from Nathan Collins before he calmly slotted Mohamed Salah’s exquisite pass towards the area beyond Flekken.

Already impressive on his first appearance for Liverpool since injury, Salah appeared to take the game away from Brentford in the 68th minute with a clinical finish – courtesy of Cody Gakpo’s headed-flick-on. However, Toney would give Brentford hope of an unlikely comeback seven minutes later as he slotted home the rebound from deep inside the area for his maiden goal against Liverpool.

Nonetheless, the current league leaders were in no mood to allow Arsenal and Manchester City to potentially close the gap at the top of the table – as Luis Díaz’s splendid reverse pass gave Gakpo the accolade of getting his name onto the scoresheet via a clinical one-on-one finish past Flekken in the 86th minute.

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Virgil van Dijk crashed an authoritative header off the crossbar deep into second-half stoppage-time on his 250th appearance for the club, but that did not stop the Liverpool captain from celebrating at the sound of the final whistle as the Reds extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table over Arsenal to five points. Meanwhile, two victories over their last 10 Premier League matches leaves Brentford six points above the relegation zone.