Championship - 1st Leg
SwanseaSwansea City1BrentfordBrentford0

Swansea City 1-0 Brentford: Hosts take Championship play-off advantage

By Gareth VincentBBC Sport Wales at the Liberty Stadium
Andre Ayew scores for Swansea
Andre Ayew scored his 18th goal of the season to give Swansea a first leg lead

Andre Ayew's thumping half-volley saw Swansea City seize the initiative in their Championship play-off semi-final against 10-man Brentford.

Swansea will take a 1-0 lead into Wednesday's second leg at Griffin Park after Ayew lashed home eight minutes from the end to give the hosts an advantage they will feel they deserve after controlling the second half.

Ayew ran towards the home dugout to celebrate his 18th goal of the season, which came just 16 minutes after he had seen a penalty saved.

Brentford were the better side in the first period, when Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma both missed good opportunities to put them in control.

But the hosts came into the contest after the break, with Brentford's cause not helped when Rico Henry was dismissed for a lunging challenge on Connor Roberts on 65 minutes.

Swansea, who only sealed a top-six spot in the dying minutes of the regular season, continued their surge into promotion contention as Brentford suffered a third successive defeat.

Brentford's poor run continues

There was pain in Griffin Park's home dressing room in the wake of defeat by Barnsley in the 116-year-old ground's last regular-season game.

In a division where consistency is notoriously hard to find, Brentford had conjured a supreme run of post-lockdown form to catapult themselves into automatic promotion contention.

But after eight successive victories, Thomas Frank's side stumbled with the finishing line in sight.

They missed two opportunities to climb into the top two as they lost to two teams fighting against relegation, Stoke City and then Barnsley on the final day.

Rico Henry
Brentford's Rico Henry was sent off following a challenge on Connor Roberts

Frank told his players to clear their minds and focus on a second opportunity to reach the Premier League.

They responded in the opening stages, pressing high and knocking Swansea out of their stride.

Benrahma headed the first chance of the contest wide before Watkins' back-header forced a diving stop from Erwin Mulder.

Watkins, the Championship's second top scorer in 2019-20 with 25 goals, then powered a header the wrong side of the far post from Henry's inviting cross.

Swansea improved as the first half wore on, yet Brentford's best chance came just before the break when Benrahma burst away from Jay Fulton and round Mike van der Hoorn before lifting his shot narrowly over the bar.

The Championship's most potent attack had not taken their opportunities, and another chance came and went soon after the break as Mathias Jensen dragged a shot wide.

From that point on, Brentford were on the back foot.

They showed resilience, particularly after Henry was shown a straight red card for a strong challenge on Roberts, only to be breached late on.

Once again, Frank must ask his players to dig deep and find a response if they are to reach Wembley.

Swans finishing with a flourish

Swansea were three points adrift of the play-offs in 11th when football was suspended because of coronavirus in March.

They then took 17 points from their last nine games to climb into the play-off places for the first time since January in the final throes of the final day. Talk about timing.

The Swans had seemed destined for the departure lounge with 25 minutes of their game at Reading remaining, but three late goals and a similar flurry for Stoke at Nottingham Forest saw Cooper's side send their campaign into overtime.

Brentford finished 11 points and three places ahead of Swansea in the regular season, and had a goal difference of +42 compared to +9.

They also beat Swansea comfortably in both league meetings, so Cooper's players might have anticipated the stern examination they got in the first period.

Rhian Brewster in action against Brentford
Rhian Brewster has scored 10 goals for Swansea during his loan spell from Liverpool

Swansea's 3-4-1-2 formation had carried them to sixth place, but too often here they could not find space to play.

Nevertheless they had chances, with Rhian Brewster drilling too close to Brentford keeper David Raya after a sweet touch from Conor Gallagher.

From a Gallagher corner, Ayew glanced a header on to the post and Brewster - who was not flagged despite appearing to be offside - nodded the rebound straight at Raya.

Swansea were asking questions again early in the second half, with Ayew heading too close to Raya before a fine breakaway ended with the Ghanaian curling a shot wide.

The penalty came on 63 minutes, when Ayew fed Brewster and the on-loan Liverpool forward went down as Pontus Jansson dangled out a leg.

Ayew has been faultless from the spot this season but at this crucial stage he was denied, with Raya guessing right and reaching high to paw the spot-kick to safety.

Swansea kept pushing, with Henry's early exit adding to their momentum.

Gallagher flicked cleverly to Fulton, who touched the ball down for Ayew to make amends for the penalty miss with a fierce drive which flashed past Raya and inside the near post.

Swansea head coach Steve Cooper:

"I am satisfied with tonight. We knew Brentford are a good team. I thought the first half was a bit edgy, quite tactical. They did some things we had to manage at half-time.

"Both teams had good chances to score, which you would expect because we have both got dangerous players.

Cooper disappointed not to have scored more

"Second half we had the penalty saved and the red card, then it was a bit of a different game.

"I thought it was a clear penalty. I haven't seen the second (appeal) on Rhian when he got booked for diving, but my analysts thought there was a good shout for a penalty there.

"The red card, you can't do that nowadays. You can't be as excessive as that, as dangerous as that, whether there is a touch on the ball or not, and expect to stay on the pitch. Times have changed. The only positive was that Connor got up because I really feared for him."

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank:

"I'm very proud of my players. It showed top personality from the first second.

"We had two minor setbacks but we dominated the game and I think we were the best team.

"The red card changed the game. After that, they worked so hard and showed top togetherness. We only gave one chance away, one bit of brilliance from Ayew."

Line-ups

Swansea

  • 25Mulder
  • 44CabangoBooked at 55mins
  • 5van der Hoorn
  • 2Guehi
  • 23Roberts
  • 6Fulton
  • 8Grimes
  • 24BidwellBooked at 18mins
  • 33Gallagher
  • 22A Ayew
  • 19BrewsterBooked at 78mins

Substitutes

  • 10Celina
  • 12Dyer
  • 18Kalulu
  • 21Dhanda
  • 30Rushesha
  • 32Cullen
  • 38Evans
  • 41Garrick
  • 46Gould

Brentford

  • 1Raya
  • 22DalsgaardBooked at 47mins
  • 18Jansson
  • 5Pinnock
  • 3HenryBooked at 65mins
  • 8JensenBooked at 45minsSubstituted forBaptisteat 85'minutes
  • 6NørgaardBooked at 90mins
  • 14DasilvaSubstituted forRasmussenat 70'minutes
  • 19MbeumoSubstituted forMarcondesat 70'minutes
  • 10BenrahmaSubstituted forValencia Castilloat 85'minutes
  • 11Watkins

Substitutes

  • 7Canós
  • 16Valencia Castillo
  • 17Marcondes
  • 21Dervisoglu
  • 23Jeanvier
  • 24Fosu-Henry
  • 26Baptiste
  • 28Daniels
  • 35Rasmussen
Referee:
Keith Stroud

Match Stats

Home TeamSwanseaAway TeamBrentford
Possession
Home58%
Away42%
Shots
Home14
Away12
Shots on Target
Home7
Away3
Corners
Home1
Away3
Fouls
Home10
Away14

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Swansea City 1, Brentford 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Swansea City 1, Brentford 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Ollie Watkins (Brentford) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is blocked.

  4. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Ollie Watkins (Brentford) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Emiliano Marcondes with a cross.

  5. Booking

    Christian Nørgaard (Brentford) is shown the yellow card.

  6. Post update

    Matt Grimes (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Christian Nørgaard (Brentford).

  8. Post update

    Foul by Matt Grimes (Swansea City).

  9. Post update

    Henrik Dalsgaard (Brentford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Brentford. Shandon Baptiste replaces Mathias Jensen.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Brentford. César Joel Valencia Castillo replaces Saïd Benrahma.

  12. Goal!

    Goal! Swansea City 1, Brentford 0. André Ayew (Swansea City) left footed shot from the right side of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Jay Fulton.

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Matt Grimes (Swansea City) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Marc Guehi.

  14. Booking

    Rhian Brewster (Swansea City) is shown the yellow card.

  15. Post update

    Rhian Brewster (Swansea City) has gone down, but the referee deems it simulation.

  16. Post update

    Attempt missed. Marc Guehi (Swansea City) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Jake Bidwell.

  17. Post update

    Attempt missed. Conor Gallagher (Swansea City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Jay Fulton.

  18. Post update

    Attempt saved. Conor Gallagher (Swansea City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Brentford. Emiliano Marcondes replaces Bryan Mbeumo.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Brentford. Mads Roerslev Rasmussen replaces Josh Dasilva.

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Sunday 26th July 2020

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Leeds46289977354293
2West Brom462217777453283
3Brentford462491380384281
4Fulham4623121164481681
5Cardiff4619161168581073
6Swansea461816126253970
7Nottm Forest461816125850870
8Millwall461717125751668
9Preston461812165954566
10Derby461713166264-264
11Blackburn461712176663363
12Bristol City461712176065-563
13QPR461610206776-958
14Reading461511205958156
15Stoke46168226268-656
16Sheff Wed461511205866-856
17Middlesbrough461314194861-1353
18Huddersfield461312215270-1851
19Luton46149235482-2851
20Birmingham461214205475-2150
21Barnsley461213214969-2049
22Charlton461212225065-1548
23Wigan461514175756147
24Hull46129255787-3045
View full Championship table

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