It would not have felt right if Neal Maupay’s first goal in 35 appearances had not come in a Brentford win. After all, it is what they do against West Ham, whose third consecutive league defeat was not only because of their wastefulness when they were dominating the first half.
If David Moyes found himself struggling to understand how a performance featuring a stunning goal from Mohammed Kudus had not yielded a reward, he only had to look at his team ceding the initiative during yet another flat second half. It is not enough to point at Michail Antonio failing to convert an open goal when West Ham led 2-1.
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One miss does not excuse this collective failure. It was the latest example of West Ham floundering after sitting on a lead. They were unambitious, their threat on the counterattack nonexistent, but it was a misguided plan. It could not work with Kurt Zouma absent in defence and the suspended Edson Álvarez unable to provide security in defensive midfield.
Brentford, who took ninth place from Moyes’s side with their third straight win, took advantage. Mathias Jensen was outstanding in midfield. Bryan Mbeumo was a constant menace and Brentford soared thanks to their aerial power, equalising through Konstantinos Mavropanos’s own goal before Nathan Collins headed in his first goal for the club. “Every win in the Premier League feels fantastic,” Thomas Frank said. “A good performance makes me a happy man. I love my team. Second half we didn’t look back.”
The opening period was more of a struggle for Brentford, so it was a surprise when they went ahead. Mind you, something about facing West Ham seems to turn Maupay into Erling Haaland. The striker’s previous goal had come against them and Brentford sensed it would be their day when he nodded home after 11 minutes.
Moyes fumed at the defending, with West Ham sliced apart on the right. Yoane Wissa shot, Vladimir Coufal blocked and Tomas Soucek’s clearance dropped to Frank Onyeka, whose wayward effort was diverted past Alphonse Areola by Maupay.
West Ham’s response was strong. They were without Lucas Paquetá, so often their creative hub, and Moyes adapted. The visitors were dangerous with Jarrod Bowen joining Antonio up front. Brentford were uncomfortable. Antonio made the equaliser with a cross from the left. Kudus, contorting his body, sent an acrobatic volley beyond Mark Flekken.
Kudus came alive after his goal, repeatedly evading Vitaly Janelt, filling in at left-back with Aaron Hickey and Rico Henry absent. West Ham believed and Brentford were pierced when Saïd Benrahma crossed from the left. Kudus hit the woodwork but Bowen gobbled up the rebound for his seventh goal of the season.
Jarrod Bowen fires home to give West Ham a 2-1 lead at Brentford. Photograph: West Ham United FC/Getty Images
The goal survived a VAR check for handball and West Ham should have led 3-1 when Kudus and Bowen combined again, only for Antonio to shoot wide when Benrahma seemed better placed. Given hope, Brentford immediately threatened, Mbeumo firing two efforts just wide.
“Half-time was big for us,” said Moyes, whose side have dropped into the bottom half. “Coming out it was really important we got the third goal. If we’d have been defensively strong we’d have got opportunities. We didn’t stop Brentford getting momentum. They keep you under pressure. We’re not talking about anything weird and wonderful. If I’d been a player I’d have been disgusted with myself.”
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West Ham wilted. Emerson Palmieri, who received no protection from Benrahma, was vulnerable at left-back. In midfield Soucek and James Ward-Prowse were not close enough to Jensen as he threaded clever balls into the attack.
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Moyes highlighted a lack of concentration as he explained his side’s repeated habit of conceding shortly after half-time. Nayef Aguerd needlessly conceded a corner and West Ham failed to switch on when Brentford took it short. Mbeumo produced a vicious cross, Areola stayed on his line and Mavropanos headed into his own net.
West Ham’s earlier zest was gone. Maupay had a shot blocked and Jensen tightened his grip. With 69 minutes gone, the Dane moved right and whipped in a beautiful cross. Nobody challenged Collins as he sent a firm header past Areola. Brentford, unbeaten in 14 London derbies, deserved their second home win of the season. They keep overwhelming West Ham.