Last weekend Yoane Wissa came off the bench and equalized against Liverpool in four minutes. It took the Democratic Republic of Congo man double the time to injure West Ham, but a winner with the final action of the match was a mind-blowing result when his side seemed content with one point.
Wissa slammed into the rebound after Lukasz Fabianski parried Pontus Jansson’s header; Brentford, scintillating at the start and rightly ahead at halftime thanks to Bryan Mbeumo, had made their way into the second half, but when Jarrod Bowen equalized with 10 minutes remaining a draw seemed fair . West Ham ultimately paid for a largely moderate display and saw their visitors overtake them in seventh place.
If Brentford was disturbed by the loss of two ubiquitous giveaways after such an impressive start to the campaign before kick-off, they didn’t let it show. Center-back Kristoffer Ajer had been ruled out with a hamstring problem ahead of their arrival and then Vitaly Janelt, another scorer in the draw with Liverpool, suffered a thigh problem in the warm-up. Nonetheless, they were by far the brightest at the start and warned of what was to come with three near misses in the first 10 minutes.
The first two chances fell on Mbeumo, who was unlucky when his first strike from 18 yards cut the angle of the post and bar with a procedure barely 90 seconds old. Soon after, he came between Angelo Ogbonna and Aaron Cresswell, but nodded at Rico Henry’s cross from an inviting position.
West Ham could barely pull it off, with Mbeumo and Ivan Toney setting a formidable tempo forward. After another half-cleared free kick, Toney grabbed Ethan Pinnock’s head and tested Fabianski with a volley. The breakthrough finally came just when it looked like the hosts had leveled off, with Kurt Zouma heading for the side net and Michail Antonio leading a few menacing raids.
Toney’s reputation as a goalscorer precedes him, but here he managed a magnificent first pass on Sergio Canós’ path from inside the center circle. Canós, a right-back, darted down the middle and pierced Fabianski, seeing the goalkeeper back down. Mbeumo, sliding at an angle, was the first to the loose ball and managed to convert from a mustache. Fabianski had recovered admirably to break free but, as goal-line technology proved, he did it a bit too late.
The rest of West Ham’s first half ended with hot flashes. Only four of their holders had started Thursday’s victory over Rapid Vienna, so fatigue could not be cited with conviction. Another piece of Brentford’s woe played in their favor when Shandon Baptiste, a buzzing midfield presence, left before the half hour with what appeared to be an arm injury.
But they created little until Saïd Benrahma, until then submissive to his former employers, had two cracks in the goal before half-time. The second flew narrowly over David Raya’s left post; West Ham would leave the pitch feeling aggrieved that Peter Bankes did not deem a challenge from Christian Norgaard to Antonio worthy of a penalty, but in truth they had to produce a lot more.
Benrahma, his appetite sharpened, almost managed to score within five minutes of the restart, but saw Raya hit the nail on a 25-yard free kick. Brentford’s fluidity in the first 20 minutes was a thing of the past now, but his ability to eliminate proved to be awkward in his own way. Raya’s propensity to take time on goal kicks particularly caught the attention of home support.
The danger for Thomas Frank was that as the hour passed, traffic flowed exclusively in their direction. Raya thwarted Bowen from an angle and then should have been beaten by the forward, who shot a wide header from Vladimir Coufal’s delivery. Coufal then made another Raya save with a volley after Henry blocked Pablo Fornals.
West Ham was getting closer but time was still ticking. Moyes betrayed that sentiment by battling Mathias Jørgensen to speed up a throw-in, causing a brief push. In a rare raid at Brentford, another perceptual pass from Toney allowed substitute Mathias Jensen to perform a cross shot that deflected wide.
The hosts’ momentum seemed to have run out of steam, but Bowen then brought them to life. His first goal since April, a half volley inside the near post after Pinnock’s clearance from a corner kick fell to him, was hit beautifully and not before the hour. Brentford might have been more inclined to see things from Raya’s point of view, given that offside Antonio was in his sights. But then Wissa struck out of nowhere and made such an argument irrelevant.