A Point For The Foxes At Brentford
Harvey Barnes’ ninth goal of the season, on 52 minutes, levelled the scores in the capital after a first-half opener from Mathias Jensen for the home side. The Bees were reduced to 10 men deep into added time, as substitute Shandon Baptiste saw red for two bookable offences in quick succession, but there wasn’t enough time left for the Foxes to snatch all three points. In any case, this was an improved display from Leicester, who dug deep for their first away draw of 2022/23. It's a result which also halts a five-game losing streak in all competitions ahead of the international break.
Goalkeeper Daniel Iversen’s top-flight debut took the pre-match headlines, while manager Brendan Rodgers reverted to his preferred 4-3-3 shape in west London. Tetê, Wilfred Ndidi and Barnes were also back in the XI to take on Thomas Frank’s Bees. James Maddison – two days on from another England call – was the visitors’ captain once again.
Brentford, with sights locked on Europe, started brightest, but couldn’t initially pierce through. Harry Souttar, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Daniel Amartey each put in sturdy blocks. City tried to break on four minutes, with Patson Daka failing to complete a one-two with Barnes. Timothy Castagne also crucially touched Rico Henry’s low cross behind, with Ivan Toney lurking at the back post.
Twelve minutes in, Souttar got in the way of Toney’s point-blank header. Iversen’s first real contribution, on the other hand, was a comfortable save from Yoane Wissa’s 20-yard drive. Leicester then advanced. Dewsbury-Hall, around 30 yards out, slightly to the left, spun on the spot to play Barnes in. City’s No.7 was in the box. A fortunate ricochet took it past Aaron Hickey too, although Barnes could only curl it, first time, inches wide.
Moments later, Tetê’s trickery freed Ricardo Pereira to cross on the right. Daka crept around a stationary Ben Mee in the area, but nodded wide from around six yards. These were nonetheless signs of encouragement for the 1,722 supporters in the away end. Another chance came and went midway through the half. Ricardo’s forward ball was hopeful and Daka – central in the area – couldn’t make contact. Ethan Pinnock, the Bees defender, was concerned enough to stick out a leg, and that looped the ball into the air. Daka’s effort was rash, though, and it flew over David Raya’s crossbar from the edges of his six-yard box.
Brentford knew three points could propel them into sixth in the Premier League. They’ve only lost once at home this season in the league – Leicester have just four wins on the road. City's assignment, already a tall order, was about to become tougher on 31 minutes. Amartey did well to halt Toney’s march on goal, but the price was a corner. It was played short as Brentford stretched the Foxes left and then right along the 18-yard line. Toney beat Dewsbury-Hall to a loose ball in the middle, laying up Jensen to strike. His left-footed hit glanced off Ricardo’s leg, altering its course – now bound for inside Iversen’s near post.
Into the second half and Amartey was forced to concede another corner, redirecting Mbeumo’s drive behind. Unlike before, Leicester cleared it. They then levelled it. Dewsbury-Hall sheltered the ball from three players in red and white stripes on the left, giving it to Maddison in the middle, 25 yards out. His quick-time through ball punctured Brentford’s rear-guard, inviting Barnes to race past Mee and Pinnock. The Leicester Academy graduate charged through and dinked the ball beyond Raya’s grasp, into the net. The Foxes would have taken a goal by any means, but this was a return to their best. Direct and fast.
Silky footwork from Tetê then saw him past three defenders just after the hour. Only a brave diving block from Pinnock prevented Leicester’s first-ever Brazilian from testing Raya. The sun was hanging low over the West Stand at Gtech Community Stadium, now nearly three years old. Leicester were shooting into the shade, with Iversen having to deal with direct sunlight. He was mostly a spectator for a positive 10-minute spell, as Rodgers’ visitors stepped up their hunt for a winner. Brentford were defying them, mind you, especially at corners. Christian Nørgaard also blocked Castagne’s half-volley in the area.
It was becoming more and more open in the final moments. Souttar spotted a gap and ran into it, ending up in the box, although later finding himself surrounded. Barnes’ low cross was fluffed by Raya as well, but Brentford survived as nobody was there to finish. Inside five added minutes, Bees’ second-half substitute Baptiste was punished for two bookings inside three minutes. His clattering challenge on Dewsbury-Hall stopped play and put his side a man down at the very end. Leicester had about two minutes to capitalise, to plot a way through a team who were now sitting deep to protect a point. They had one chance as Barnes glanced a header wide, from Ricardo’s cross. Just a point in west London, but potentially a big one.
Major moment – Barnes makes a point
Harvey Barnes gets Leicester back on level terms early in the second half.
Seven minutes into the second half, City burst into life, cutting Brentford open and rescuing a valuable Premier League point. It was tidy football from the visitors, involving Kieran Dewsbury-Hall and James Maddison in the build-up, before a clinical finish from Harvey Barnes.
Who impressed? – Souttar shines
Australia centre-back Harry Souttar was commanding at the back for the Foxes.
Matt Elliott, who lifted the League Cup at City in 2000, told Matchday Live: “Harry Souttar won absolutely everything aerially, which was vital today. He snuffed out Ivan Toney, who’s been called up for England. It needed a big performance from him to settle that backline. He’s still finding his way at this level and at the Club, but it was a sterling performance today.”
Where does it leave us? – 17th in the table
Tetê offered flair at times for Leicester on Saturday.
Following Everton's late draw at Chelsea, Leicester are now 17th in the Premier League, a single point above 18th-placed West Ham United, who have a game in hand.
Coming up – Palace next
Shot-stopper Daniel Iversen was rarely tested at Gtech Community Stadium.
Several of City’s players will now travel away for the first international break of 2023. Once they return, Leicester's next task is a Premier League visit to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace a week on Saturday (3pm GMT kick-off).
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