Thomas Frank’s tenacious Bees, lead by the terrific Ivan Toney, left high-flying West Ham with a bloodied nose at the London Stadium on Sunday and were well worthy of the three points, even if they win it through Yoane Wissa’s last-gasp strike.
David Moyes said ahead of the game that he had not been surprised by Brentford’s fast start to life in the Premier League, but even the Scot would have been taken aback at how sharp the visitors were in the opening 20 minutes.
It was on the 20-minute mark that Bryan Mbuemo struck the opener, pouncing on Lukasz Fabianski’s parry after the Pole saved from Sergi Canos, who had been sent in behind thanks to a wonderful first time ball from Toney.
In truth, Brentford could have had four by that point. Mbuemo had already hit the bar and headed wide while Toney himself drew a good save from Fabianski with a powerful effort on his left foot.
The striker may not have added to his Premier League goal tally here, but talk of an England call-up will not dissipate with performances like this.
Moyes had scouted Toney during his time at Peterborough and how he would have wished West Ham had taken that gamble yesterday as he watched the 25-year-old torment his defenders.
Too often the striker allowed to drop in between midfield and defence and cause problems. Kurt Zouma was booked after 35 minutes having been given no choice but to trip Toney on the edge of his own box, such was his presence in the first half.
“He is a handful for every centre back,” said Frank. “He is a handful and worked very hard defensively. I can’t praise him enough.
“Ivan shows he is such an important player for us and even though he didn’t get an assist, but what a ball for the first touch to Sergi that created the goal.”
Toney set the tone throughout the first half as Brentford were stronger and sharper than their stunned hosts, first to every loose ball and dominant across the field.
The Bees had to dig in across the second half as West Ham found some confidence and composure, though the Hammers never looked like they had enough to take three points.
Even in sitting tight and defending, Brentford were frustrating their hosts with too many a yellow shirt blocking the path to goal, though their persistent time wasting was not as attractive as their football from the first half.
West Ham looking tired and lacking in ideas in open play, their goal coming from a set piece with Jarrod Bowen’s well struck first time effort.
Their midfield engine of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek, usually so commanding, was missing in action with the latter well off the pace.
“I think he [Soucek] is fighting for a wee bit of his best form,” said Moyes. “I think Tomas has struggled a wee bit.”
Brentford pushed West Ham to the last and Angelo Ogbonna’s challenge to bring down Wissa for the free-kick from which the substitute scored the winner was clumsy and tired. West Ham certainly won’t be Brentford’s only victims this season.