Rodgers relieved but boos ring out

Bees’ 70-year long wait to beat Leicester continues




dmg media (UK)

Premier League

IT is nearly seventy years to the day since Brentford last beat Leicester and Brendan Rodgers will be thankful that run continued yesterday. Both sides were far from their best but Harvey Barnes’ equaliser seven minutes into the second-half, after Mathias Jensen’s opener for Brentford, at least stopped the rot for the Northern Irishman’s side. ‘It breaks the cycle of results that we were on and I think we deserved it,’ said Rodgers. ‘In the second-half we looked like the team that could go on and win it. I was really pleased with the spirit, fight and resilience from the team.’ This result will go down as a disappointing one for Brentford, highlighting just how different the paths both of these clubs find themselves on are. They did, though, maintain their remarkable record of suffering only one defeat at home this season, which came back in September against league leaders Arsenal. The draw should by no means end any dreams of a first foray into Europe. Brentsign ford, a club who were playing in the Championship two seasons ago, are still only five points off a Europa League spot. ‘I think it was a fair result,’ said Bees boss Thomas Frank. ‘I felt we came out with energy, put pressure on Leicester, created a lot of good opportunities and [took] a welldeserved lead. Second half, we couldn’t keep it up.’ The threat of relegation is still very real for Leicester with the Foxes only separated from the relegation zone by one point and two places. This was a huge game for Rodgers who has faced criticism for much of this lacklustre season from supporters. Perhaps the clearest the pressure was beginning to take its toll was his decision to drop goalkeeper Danny Ward, who had started all 26 Premier League games so far this season, and hand a Premier League debut to Daniel Iversen. Only Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth have conceded more goals this season but it seemed a big call to change a goalkeeper ahead of one of the club’s most important run of games in recent memory. To their credit, they showed little evidence of feeling that pressure. After withstanding an early Brentford storm, they created the clearest opportunities in the opening stages. Barnes played a neat onetwo with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall before his strike drifted just past David Raya’s left post before Patson Daka headed wide from Ricardo Pereira’s cross. But it was a scrappy goal that led to Leicester’s undoing. Bryan Mbeumo’s initial cross was blocked by Dewsbury-Hall but Bees skipper Mathias Jensen reacted first to fire past Iversen via two deflections off Leicester bodies. That opener left Leicester needing to do something no side has achieved in 23 attempts against Brentford in the Premier League — come from behind to win. They weren’t able to quite do that but were the better side in the secondhalf. The architect of Leicester’s equaliser was James Maddison. He played a cute through-ball to Barnes, who surged towards goal before producing a neat chip over Raya. So a point for Rodgers and a big one at that. It still failed to appease some sections of the away support, who booed their manager and presented him with a ‘Rodgers Out’ banner at full-time. ‘I always like to show my appreciation to them,’ said Rodgers. ‘It was a hard-fought point for us and hopefully they can feel proud of their team. People are entitled to their opinion. I’ve always been respectful. ‘Whatever the reaction, it’s OK, it’s been like that for a lot of the season. But my focus can only be on making sure we keep the club in the Premier League.’