West Ham United were unable to get their second win of the season at The Gtech Community Stadium as they were beaten 2-0 by Brentford on Sunday afternoon.
David Moyes named a much-changed team from the one that came from behind to beat Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar to hold the advantage going into Thursday’s second-leg, as Ben Johnson, Flynn Downes, Pablo Fornals, Manuel Lanzini, Maxwel Cornet, Angelo Ogbonna, Emmerson Palmieri and Danny Ings all came into the starting line-up with Łukasz Fabiański returning in goal, while Alphonse Areola, Kurt Zouma, Aaron Cresswell, Thilo Kehrer, Lucas Paquetá, Jarrod Bowen, Declan Rice and Saïd Benrahma all dropping to the bench. Youngster Divin Mubama was also included as part of the matchday squad. Nayef Aguerd and Tomáš Souček were the only two players to feature in this game that also played just three days earlier.
The Hammers went into this game off the back of successive wins and were going for a third consecutive victory, while the Bees were hoping to bounce back after their 1-0 defeat at Liverpool on May 6 and were the fresher of the two sides after Moyes’ men had previously been involved in European competition.
There was very little to choose between the two sides when the action got underway. Having said that, Thomas Frank’s side were creating chances but couldn’t find their rhythm in order to finish them off.
The Irons looked content as they were keeping their West London opponents at bay but they were finally undone with just twenty minutes gone. A costly error from Aguerd allowed Mathias Jensen to set up Bryan Mbeumo and Fabiański was soon picking the ball out of his net on his 350th Premier League appearance.
A large number of travelling fans were in attendance and they might have seen an equaliser minutes later but home goalkeeper David Raya reacted quickly and made the save.
The Pole had to dig his team out of trouble again minutes later. He thwarted Yoane Wissa, as the hosts started to apply pressure.
Wissa did get better of the former Swansea City and Arsenal stopper just two minutes before the break, as he steered a firm header into the net.
West Ham needed to score quickly if they had any hopes of grabbing a vital point. Ings nearly found a way back but Raya was in the way again.
In early April, the Irons’ away form was looking as if it was starting to show signs of improvement but here, they were 2-0 down and referee Michael Oliver blew the whistle for half-time. It would be a difficult task to come back from here!!!
Whatever Moyes said in the dressing room must have sparked something out of his team, as they went close just minutes after the second-half started. Lanzini and Cornet combined to good effect. However, when the Argentine midfielder sent a cross into the box, Souček could only head over the bar. It wouldn’t have counted in any case, as the linesman later raised his flag for offside.
The Bees should have been out of sight before the hour mark but thankfully for the Irons, they continued to waste their opportunities.
After surviving that spell of pressure, the Hammers’ boss decided to make a triple change by introducing Rice, Mubama and Benrahma to take the places of Souček, Cornet and Fornals.
The changes failed to have the desired effect, as seconds later, Brentford almost increased their advantage. Mikkel Damsgaard met Ben Mee’s header but he only succeeded in sending it wide.
Benrahma’s cross was headed on by Mubama but it came back off the post and was then nudged past Raya by Ings. Oliver initially allowed the goal to stand but it was eventually ruled out after VAR had spotted that the ball had hit Mubama’s arm. The referee then overturned his original decision when he was advised to consult the pitchside monitor.
West Ham weren’t finished there either, as Benrahma tested Raya but, once again, the former Blackburn Rovers stopper denied him.
With nine minutes of normal time to play, Moyes made his fourth and final change by bringing Bowen into the action and replacing Ings.
Mbeumo had a chance to clinch the points but Fabiański made a great save to keep the scoreline respectable.
After a good week, it was just a shame that the East Londoners weren’t able to add to their points total. Attention now turns to booking a trip to Prague in June for the UEFA Europa Conference League final when Moyes takes his side to Holland to face AZ Alkmaar.