Salem Radio Network News Friday, February 23, 2024

Sports

Soccer-Brentford beat Luton 3-1 to surge into top half of table

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) -Brentford scored three second-half goals to move into the top half of the Premier League table – and above West London rivals Chelsea at least for a day – after beating Luton Town 3-1 at the Gtech Community Stadium on Saturday.

French striker Neal Maupay, on loan from Everton and back in the starting lineup, broke the ice on a freezing afternoon in the capital by sweeping home from close range in the 49th after a scuffed Ben Mee shot deflected off a defender.

Mee then headed a second, after a 56th minute corner, as Brentford found their flow following a scrappy first half of missed chances.

Luton grabbed one back in the 76th minute through substitute Jacob Brown but Brentford made sure of the three points when Shandon Baptiste, who also came off the bench in the second half, scored his first goal in two years in the 81st.

“I think until their goal they didn’t have a shot,” said Brentford manager Thomas Frank of what he called a “fully deserved win”.

“I think the first 30 minutes, yes, we didn’t create big chances but sometimes that’s part of breaking down a team,” he added.

Brentford’s return to winning ways, after last Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal, moved them up to 10th on 19 points and three clear of 11th-placed Chelsea who play at home to Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday.

Luton are 17th on nine and two points clear of the drop zone.

Bryan Mbeumo, the Bees’ top scorer so far this season with six league goals in the absence of banned forward Ivan Toney, saw several attempts go wide or over the bar and was substituted in the 78th.

Lively Brentford appeals for a penalty in the 43rd minute, for a possible handball by Luton defender Issa Kabore, came to nothing.

Brentford’s Yegor Yarmolyuk came closest to a first-half goal when his shot was deflected wide but there was otherwise little to fire up the crowd before the break, with Luton goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski even booked for time wasting.

Luton captain Tom Lockyer went down in the second minute after a knee in the back and was replaced at the break, while Brentford lost centre-back Kristoffer Ajer to a foot injury in the warm-up.

Luton manager Rob Edwards said the loss of Lockyer had been a big blow but Brentford deserved the win.

“I felt like we gave them two early Christmas presents in that second half. I didn’t feel they had to work too hard for their goals and they had control,” he added.

Brentford were still without Mathias Jensen but fellow Dane Mads Roerslev, who also missed the Arsenal game, came on as a late substitute.

The Bees are back in action on Wednesday at Brighton and then travel to bottom side Sheffield United on Saturday. Luton meanwhile have tough home games against leaders Arsenal and champions Manchester City.

“I’m disappointed but I don’t think anyone expected us to come here and win,” said Edwards. “If we start to feel sorry for ourselves we’re going to be in trouble on Tuesday aren’t we?

“The challenge to the boys now is to pick yourselves up and we’ve got to get something from the rest of this week.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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