Liverpool 3-0 Brentford: Dominant second half showing fires Reds to second
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Takumi Minamino of Liverpool celebrates with Roberto Firmino after scoring their team's third goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Brentford at Anfield on January 16, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

A dominant second half display saw Liverpool defeat Brentford 3-0 to narrow the gap between themselves and Manchester City to just 11 points as they leapfrogged Chelsea into second place.

After a tentative start, Fabinho nodded home the game's first goal just before half time just moments after Brentford nearly took a surprise lead on their first league trip to Anfield since 1946.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and substitute Takumi Minamino fired late second half goals as the Reds answered any questions surrounding their goal-scoring ability in the absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

The defeat sees Thomas Frank's side stay 14th.

Story of the game

Jurgen Klopp made two changes to his side following Thursday night's stalemate with Arsenal in the League Cup semi-final.

James Milner made way for Curtis Jones who was handed his first Premier League start since late October, while Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Minamino to join Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino in the front line.

Frank opted for just the one change for Brentford's trip to Anfield as Sergio Canos was replaced by the more defensively-stable Rico Henry at wing-back.

It wasn't the most electric start to proceedings, but it was in fact the away side who enjoyed an excessive spell of possession early on. 

Right from the off Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo picked their duels with Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk in the hope of replicating their success from September's thrilling corresponding fixture. 

However, Liverpool's defensive duo thwarted any threat the away side's strikers posed as they implemented their usual high defensive line, catching the duo out on a handful of occasions. 

The Reds found themselves up against another flat back-five for the second time this week, but - unlike their midweek frustrations against  Arsenal - there was an air of control about early the manner in which the Reds sought to break down Frank's system.

Oxlade-Chamberlain drifted out to the right-hand side early on to support Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson in the absence of Salah. Which allowed the full-back to step in-field and test the nerve of the Bees' back-line with a flurry of early balls into the box.

Van Dijk came the closest to breaking the deadlock after 24 minutes but a stunning goal-line save from Alvaro Fernandez denied him from the opener after everyone had missed Alexander-Arnold's set-piece delivery.

With the game entering the midway stage of the first period, Klopp's men let some of their bad habits from Thursday evening's outing creep in as they began to concede possession far too cheaply, allowing Brentford to have a handful of half-chances at Alisson's goal.

Following Vitaly Janelt's speculative sighter from distance, Toney let fly a few moments later as Alisson Becker scrambled down to his right. But the effort flashed way wide of the post.

As the Anfield crowd aimed to snap Klopp's men out of a brief lapse of concentration, Fabinho was on hand to pounce on some questionable Brentford defending to give his side a vital lead.

Alexander-Arnold was again the architect as his in-swinging corner evaded all the white shirts in the box which left the Brazilian with the simple task of rising above his man to head home.

You'd been mistaken for thinking there had been a second goal for the home side in the minutes immediately following half-time, though the exuberant chanting from the Kop came as the news of Rafa Benitez's sacking filtered through to Anfield.

The Reds saw long-range efforts from Fabinho, Jones and Oxlade-Chamberlain all fail to trouble Fernandez - who was making a rather impressive account of himself - in the Brentford goal. 

Though, it was Jota who would be handed the best chances following the restart as he was first denied by the post before Fernandez smothered his later - one-on-one - effort in front of the Kop.

Mbeumo wasted the Bees' best opportunity of the game as he danced past Matip on the edge of the box before firing his subsequent effort into the advertising hoardings, leaving himself frustrated at the wasted chance to draw his side level with 30 minutes remaining. 

Soon after, Klopp's men enforced their swagger and nous on Brentford as Andy Robertson delivered a superb ball from deep which left Oxlade-Chamberlain with the simple task of converting his diving header past Fernandez.

No sooner after notching his first goal in eight months had the makeshift forward appeared to injure himself - in what looked like a twisted ankle. Leaving Oxlade-Chamberlain to be replaced by Minamino, who wasted no time in getting his name on the scoresheet. 

The ever-impressive Firmino was on hand to capitalise on some hesitant Brentford defending as he picked their pockets before unselfishly teeing up Minamino to convert from close range and avenged his demons following his glaring miss on Thursday night.

Quite the birthday present for the former Salzburg man, one might say.

There was further joy for the Klopp and the Reds as Kaide Gordon was introduced late on in what was his first Premier League outing. And just moments after taking to the field, the 17-year-old could have etched his name into the Reds' history books but Fernandez denied him a debut goal and the achievement of becoming the club's youngest Premier League scorer.

 

Starting XI's

Liverpool: Alisson: Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Jones; Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Brentford: Fernandez; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Roerslev, Janelt, Norgaard, Bapties, Henry; Mbeumo, Toney

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