Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Brentford 0
Albion are finally back to winning ways as they overcame Brentford at the Amex with a first win since Sunday 19 September.
In fact, the Seagulls hadn’t won a match for the entire duration of Danny Welbeck’s absence through injury which had lasted almost 12 weeks.
Brentford looked brighter than Albion at the start. Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo both had good chances, the latter seeing his goal-bound effort hooked clear by Dan Burn.
Albion keeper Robert Sanchez, who was deep in conversation with Ben Roberts during the pre-match warm up, was quick with his distribution.
From a quick goal kick, Adam Lallana, the captain for the night, and Neal Maupay combined well, only for Enock Mwepu to fire his shot wide.
Albion took the lead through Mwepu’s industry. His angled pass found Leandro Trossard who deftly chipped the ball over Fernandez and sent it bouncing into the net.
Now Albion were fired up and Mwepu really grew into the game. Another fine pass saw Alexis Mac Allister fire narrowly over.
Then it was time for his midfield partner Jakub Moder to step up. He found Maupay who unleashed a rasping drive into the top corner to double Albion’s lead against his former club.
Intriguingly, Welbeck replaced the seemingly fit and agile Trossard at the start of the second half. Hopefully, it wasn’t the result of a late positive PCR test for the Belgian.
Albion, with Marc Cucurella and Tariq Lamptey providing an additional attacking source down the flanks, were causing Brentford no end of problems. Bees captain Pontus Jansen was berating his colleagues with increased frequency.
Just past the hour mark, Sanchez made the save of the season so far or possibly the year so far.
As Shandon Baptiste shot, so Burn attempted to close the shot down. The Albion keeper must have been unsighted and, though seemingly going the other way, managed to divert the ball over the bar with his left hand.
Brentford sensed an opening. Mads Sorenson hurled in a long throw which caused mayhem in the Albion penalty area. Adam Webster and Burn were both unable to clear their lines and Ethan Pinnock tried to plant a header over Sanchez. Cucurella somehow managed to clear off the line, with a header right under the crossbar.
Albion were able to control the game even more effectively once Pascal Gross and Steve Alzate replaced Lallana and Mac Allister, with Gross becoming captain.
Moder combined well with Alzate who saw a shot pushed away by Fernandez.
Albion won comfortably in the end, their first Boxing Day home victory in 16 years.
The Seagulls, who take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday (29 December) are now back to ninth in the Premier League.
The attendance at the Amex remains a mystery but the crowd looked sparse. At 8pm on a Sunday Boxing Day night, with no public transport available, few will he surprised.