Brentford 1 – 0 Manchester City. Brentford missed out on a place in next season’s Europa Conference League despite Ethan Pinnock’s late goal earning the Bees a narrow victory that ended Premier League champions Manchester City’s 25-match unbeaten run.
Thomas Frank’s team needed to win and hope that Aston Villa and Tottenham both dropped points to clinch a seventh-place finish, but Unai Emery’s side beat Brighton while Spurs cruised to victory over Leeds at Elland Road.
Pinnock, who signed a new four-year contract with the club on Saturday, sent a low drive into the bottom corner after Kevin Schade’s teasing cross was headed into his path by Bryan Mbeumo.
Cole Palmer forced David Raya into a one-handed save early in the first half as City started brightly, before Ben Mee and Vitaly Janelt went close for the home side at the other end.
Brentford felt they should have been awarded a penalty after half-time when the ball appeared to strike Rico Lewis’ arm following a goalmouth scramble, but Pinnock’s goal proved decisive.
The Bees are just the third outfit to do the Premier League double over Manchester City in a season in which they were crowned champions, after Chelsea in 2013-14 and Tottenham last season.
Before the game, Frank described the Bees’ season as “unbelievable” and vowed his side would do “all they can” to clinch a place in European competition for the first time in their history.
The Bees kept their side of the bargain, producing an energetic, aggressive first-half display to keep Pep Guardiola’s team at bay before grabbing the goal their second-half endeavours deserved.
The hosts had to soak up plenty of City pressure in the opening exchanges, but they managed to restrict the visitors to half-chances before going close to breaking the deadlock themselves.
Mee’s neat turn and shot almost resulted in the opener, while Janelt blazed over the crossbar from a central position inside the area as the hosts ended the half strongly.
Yoane Wissa also struck the woodwork for the hosts, but the effort would not have counted as the 26-year-old had strayed offside in the build-up.
Frank and his players were incredulous when the officials failed to award a penalty for Lewis’ handball, but they had the last laugh when Pinnock – who played a crucial role in the Bees’ promotion campaign in 2020-21 – struck his third goal of the season with five minutes remaining.
City’s attentions can now turn to the FA Cup final against Manchester United on 3 June and the Champions League final against Inter Milan the following weekend.
Guardiola appears to have settled on a big-game XI in recent months but after making seven changes to his team, several players had the opportunity at the GTech Community Stadium to put themselves in contention for those two deciders.
It was an opportunity they failed to grasp.
Phil Foden caused Aaron Hickey problems but struggled to test Raya in the Brentford goal, while Riyad Mahrez was a peripheral figure.
Youngsters Palmer and Lewis, both operating alongside Kalvin Phillips in midfield, delivered assured performances, but whether either did enough to warrant a place in the starting line-up at Wembley next weekend – or in the Turkish capital on 10 June – remains to be seen.
source – BBC