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  • Writer's pictureBruno Asoka

No Toney but the Bees still sting

For the first time in 85 years, Brentford defeated Liverpool comfortably to start the year 2023 off right.

Seven minutes into the game, Darwin Nunez's first opportunity gave us a glimpse of both sides of him. With the goal gaping as Ben Mee raced out to clear off the line, Mo Salah brought the ball down and slipped in the Uruguayan, whose run was perfectly timed. However, as the striker rounded David Raya, he once again missed the goal.

Prior to kickoff, Liverpool had astonishingly scored in each of their previous 26 away top-flight games in London. However, the Reds' defense has appeared vulnerable all season, and they gave up the opening goal for the 13th time this season. Mee was the recipient of a well-whipped corner, and even though the ball appeared to cross the goal line with the defender's arm, VAR reviewed the play and affirmed Brentford's advantage after 19 minutes.

Without VAR, Liverpool's porous defense would have been breached three times, all from corners, and Yoane Wissa, filling in for the injured Ivan Toney, would have had two of them but was denied both times by an offside call. The attacker was given plenty of room to head past Alisson for a 2-0 advantage after Virgil van Dijk and company failed to heed Wissa's warning when another ball was delivered from a wide area, this time during open play.

Van Dijk was one of three substitutions made at halftime that gave Liverpool a boost. Nunez first had a goal disallowed for offside by video assistant referee (VAR), and then Trent Alexander-left-footed Arnold's cross was met by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to cut the lead in half early in the second half. Bryan Mbeumo sped through to seal the victory late on and secure a historic triumph over the Merseyside club, extending their unbeaten streak on their own turf to five games, but Brentford survived the storm and caught Liverpool on the attack.

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