Brentford 0-2 Newcastle United: Marvellous Magpies leapfrog Bees
BRENTFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Joelinton of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Brentford and Newcastle United at Brentford Community Stadium on February 26, 2022 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Christian Eriksen made an emotional return to the top-flight, eight months after suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, with a second-half appearance in west London, but his presence did not stop a crushing defeat against fellow relegation rivals.

First-half goals from Joelinton and Joe Willock saw Newcastle United comfortably beat 10-man Brentford as Josh Dasilva's early red card for a foul on Matt Targett ensured The Magpies stretched their unbeaten run in the top-flight to seven matches.  

Importantly, the result also sees Newcastle leapfrog their opponents and climb to 14th in the Premier League table with 25 points from 25 matches, while Brentford drop to 15th and lie just three points above the relegation zone. 

  • Story of the game

Thomas Frank made just the one change from the 2-1 defeat at Arsenal with Sergi Canos being replaced by Vitaly Janelt in midfield as Eriksen was named on the bench for The Bees alongside Ivan Toney.

Eddie Howe opted to stay with an unchanged side after last weekend's 1-1 draw with West Ham United as Allan Saint-Maximin failed to recover from a calf problem. 

In the first ever meeting between the two sides in the top-flight at the Brentford Community Stadium, the hosts were dealt a huge blow just 11 minutes in as Dasilva was shown a straight red card by referee Mike Dean, with the assistance of VAR, for a reckless challenge on Targett's shin. 

The resulting Newcastle free kick by Jonjo Shelvey from the edge of the area was fired straight into the arms of David Raya

Brentford appeared to switch to a 4-3-2 formation with Kristoffer Ajer moving into right-back, but with the numerical disadvantage struggled to break down The Magpies' well-organised defence.

Newcastle started to control the flow of the game on 26 minutes as Fraser's left-sided cross found Chris Wood, whose downward header was saved by Raya. 

Though, The Magpies' constant pressure paid dividents just seven minutes later when Joelinton towered above the defence, superbly met Fraser's inviting cross and delivered a powerful header into the bottom left corner beyond a helpless Raya, before sprinting the length of the pitch to celebrate with the travelling Toon Army.   

It went from bad to worse for Brentford a minute before half-time as Newcastle launched a stunning counter attack through Fabian Schar from a Bees corner, who charged forward and squared the ball to Willock and he emphatically curled his effort into the roof of the net to deservedly give the black-and-whites a two-goal cushion at the interval.

The visitors, who were well on top, almost added a decisive third early into the second half as Schar, from six yards out, headed Targett's corner over the bar. 

The 10-men of Brentford slowly started to make their mark in the game but failed to find the target when Bryan Mbuemo's outswinging free-kick was headed over by Christian Norgaard

On 52 minutes, it was the moment everyone had been waiting for as the whole stadium were up on their feet to applaud the return of Eriksen, who replaced Mathias Jensen, as the Danish playmaker returned to the field for the first time since June 2020.   

It was clear his introduction started to lift his teammates spirits, albeit slightly as Norgaard sent his left-footed shot narrowly over Martin Dubravka's goal.

Both sides decided to make a change just after the hour-mark as former Magpie Toney replaced Yoane Wissa for the hosts, while Jacob Murphy made way for Bruno Guimaraes and was greeted with chants of "Bruno" from the Geordie contingent. 

Heading into the final 20 minutes, Newcastle pressed for a third and Targett came close only to be denied by Raya, with the rebound sent wide by Guimaraes.  

The Brazilian nearly grabbed his first goal for Howe's side in the closing moments but sent his strike from outside the area inches wide. 

Brentford finally tested Dubravka in the third minute of stoppage-time when Janelt's shot was pushed behind by the Slovakian, though it was a dominant display from Newcastle in west London to move into 14th in the Premier League table. 

  • Takeaways

Eriksen's long-awaited return to professional football greeted to a rapturous reception 

It was a poignant moment in the 52nd-minute when Eriksen replaced countryman Jensen, who came on as a substitute to replace him in Denmark's emotional opening match at Euro 2020, as he received a standing ovation from everyone inside the Brentford Community Stadium which was incredible to see.

Once Eriksen regains his full match fitness, Brentford will need his quality in the coming weeks to keep them away from the bottom three as The Bees have now slipped to their seventh defeat in eight top-flight games.  

Newcastle impressively secure fourth win in five games

While Dasilva's red card made life easier for The Magpies, Newcastle took full advantage with the extra man and controlled the game from start to finish with 26 attempts at goal and 63% possession in an awe-inspiring performance.  

The last time Newcastle played Brentford back in November, they were bottom with six points from 12 matches. Now, they are four points clear of the relegation zone in 14th which shows what a tremendous job Howe and the players have done in such a short space of time and the big difference is, they don't look like losing. 

  • Starting XI's

Brentford: Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Dasilva, Janelt, Norgaard, Jensen, Henry; Mbeumo, Wissa. (3-5-2)

Newcastle United: Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett; Willock, Shelvey, Joelinton; Fraser, Wood, Murphy. (4-3-3)