Brentford kicked off their 2023 with a bang by emphatically beating Liverpool for the first time in 85 years.
Seven minutes in, and we saw the best and worst of Darwin Núñez in the opening chance of the game. Mo Salah brought the ball down and slipped it in for the Uruguayan, whose run was perfectly timed, but as the forward rounded David Raya, he once again failed to find the back of the net as Ben Mee came back to clear off the line.
Liverpool have had no problems scoring goals and before kick-off had remarkably found the back of the net in each of their last 26 top-flight away games in London, but they’ve looked shaky in defense all season and conceded first for the 13th time this campaign.
Mee was the benefactor of a well-whipped in corner and despite the ball bobbling over the line via what looked to be the defender’s arm, VAR checked and confirmed Brentford’s lead on 19 minutes.
If it wasn’t for VAR, Liverpool’s vulnerable defense would have been breached three times, all from corners, and Yoane Wissa, deputizing for the injured Ivan Toney, would have had two of them, but both times the Congolese forward was denied by an offside call.
Virgil van Dijk and Co. did not heed Wissa’s warning and as another ball was delivered from a wide area, this time from open play, the striker was left in acres of space to head past Alisson for a 2-0 lead.
Three changes at halftime, including Van Dijk, sparked Liverpool into life. First, Nunez had a goal ruled out for offside by VAR, then Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain met a left-footed cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold to reduce the deficit early in the second half.
For all Liverpool’s added impetus, Brentford weathered the storm and caught the visitors on the counter as Bryan Mbeumo raced through to wrap up the points late on and secure an historic win over the Merseyside club, stretching their unbeaten run on their own patch to five.