For the second weekend in a row, Brentford learned painfully that the Premier League rarely forgives missed chances. They created enough to beat a spluttery Leicester but instead finished with nothing, falling to Youri Tielemans’ latest stroke of genius and a 73rd minute tap-in from James Maddison.
In cancelling out the former, Mathias Jørgensen appeared to have given them the least they merited but their opponents subsequently leapfrogged them in the table. After a patchy start to the season there are indications that, fortunate though they were, Leicester are recovering a semblance of form.
Tielemans’ strike was all the more remarkable given Leicester could easily have conceded three times in the first 10 minutes. Brentford had picked up where they left off against Chelsea, using their gloriously varied armoury to batter at the door, and the visitors had not made any impression in their half. So the opener felt cruel, although nobody could legislate for the Belgian’s latest spark of brilliance.
In their win over Manchester United, Tielemans had made jaws drop with a gorgeous chip that drifted beyond David de Gea as if in slow motion. This time he dispensed with the subtlety and his end product was just as exhilarating. Maddison sought Jamie Vardy’s run with a clever free-kick from the right and a backpedalling Rico Henry could apply neither sufficient power nor appropriate direction to his clearing header.
Tielemans was lurking well beyond the edge of the box but seized the moment before anybody else, galloping towards the bobbling ball before blasting a long-range screamer to the left of David Raya’s futile dive.
As was the case in that unjust defeat to Thomas Tuchel’s side, Brentford had somehow not turned ferocious pressure into goals. Their first opening arrived within two minutes and it took a prodigious save from Kasper Schmeichel, plunging low to his left, to repel Christian Nørgaard’s acrobatic effort after Leicester had struggled to clear a long throw.
Moments later, Nørgaard nodded across the six-yard box only for Pontus Jansson to head over in front of goal. In fairness to Jansson, he had an onrushing Schmeichel to distract him; Brentford appealed for a penalty after the pair collided, but Simon Hooper was unmoved.
Brentford kept coming. It was a relentless early spell and they briefly thought it had counted for something when Ivan Toney converted Henry’s clever ball from the left. Henry had, it transpired, strayed a fraction offside earlier in the move. Bryan Mbeumo was the next to take aim and should have done better when, after taking Toney’s astute first-time pass inside Jonny Evans, he shot wide of Schmeichel’s right post.
Scoring so undeservedly had the effect of settling Leicester, although they offered little else going forward in the first half and were still fortunate to go in ahead. Brentford’s edge dulled slightly but they came agonisingly close once more before the interval, Schmeichel tipping over acrobatically after Toney had powered a header towards goal from Frank Onyeka’s cross.
Ethan Pinnock, who had taken a knock, did not reappear after the break. More curiously, nor did Vardy; presumably his replacement by Patson Daka was injury-related, too, but Leicester came back out on the front foot. Space opened up for Maddison to shoot and Daka, who scored four in Wednesday’s win at Spartak Moscow, could not connect with the rebound after Raya parried.
Raya was soon worked again, pawing Boubakary Soumaré’s effort over. It was a much more end-to-end affair now, Toney failing to unduly trouble Schmeichel from another decent opening, but Brentford found the equaliser their efforts merited on the hour.
Their set pieces had been threatening all afternoon and, from Mathias Jensen’s inswinging corner, Jørgensen rose at the near post to flick a deft header across Schmeichel. The delivery, whipped in with purpose, was of such quality that any touch was bound to cause trouble.
The same could be said of a Jensen corner from the other side, 10 minutes later, that Jansson glanced wide when a goal seemed certain. Brentford had built up a fresh head of steam and Kristoffer Ajer, on for Pinnock, had earned the corner with a shot blocked by the recent arrival Jannik Vestergaard. How unfortunate, then, that they were swiftly sucker punched again.
Their defence was off kilter after Schmeichel launched a counter with a long, flat kick. Eventually Tielemans slipped Daka through and the Zambian, faced only by Raya, unselfishly squared to his left for Maddison to score. Brentford had arguably been punished for over-committing; they hurled more bodies forward during the remainder, which included seven minutes of added time, but could not muster a second reprieve.