Swansea come from behind against Brentford to reach quarter-finals
Ezri Konsa Ngoyo saw red for Brentford as the game was turned on its head
Swansea City’s Bersant Celina (right) celebrates scoring his side’s third goal of the game during the FA Cup fifth round clash with Brentford at the Liberty Stadium. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Swansea City 4 Brentford 1
It will remembered as the day when Dan James stated his claim to be part of Great Britain’s sprinting team for the 2020 Olympics. The 21-year-old was unplayable as his breathtaking pace turned this FA Cup tie on its head and took Swansea into the quarter-finals for only the fifth time in their history.
How incredible to think that Swansea were close to allowing James to join Leeds on loan on deadline day. Swansea pulled the plug on that deal at the last moment and, on this evidence, James will have plenty more suitors than Leeds come the summer. He ran 80 yards with the ball to score Swansea’s second, after Bersant Celina’s free-kick cannoned off Luke Daniels and into the back of the Brentford net to bring parity, and James may well have added another had Ezri Konsa not brought him down to earn a straight red card.
Celina then punished some poor Brentford defending to double Swansea’s lead and George Byers added a fourth – James, inevitably, was involved – to complete the scoring. What a turnaround from the first half.
It is measure of how well Brentford started the game that when Ollie Watkins opened the scoring in the 28th minute it was already their eighth shot. The visitors were superior in every department in those early stage and looked menacing whenever they attacked. Swansea, in contrast, were toothless, timid and flat.
A dangerous cross from George Byers, after Yoann Barbet brought down Daniel James to earn an early yellow card, just eluded the head of Oli McBurnie in the fifth minute but that was as close as Swansea came to scoring in the first half. They never really got going, in truth, and it felt like a matter of time before Brentford scored.
With Brentford set up in a 3-4-3 formation, there was so much space on the flanks for the visitors to exploit. Sergi Canos, wide on the right, was seeing plenty of the ball and causing Swansea problems. His low shot was parried by Kristoffer Nordfeldt and Watkins, slightly off balance, was unable to control his attempt to hook the ball home.
Watkins would not be so forgiving with his next chance. In many ways it was a passage of play that summed up the first half. Connor Roberts cheaply gave the ball away deep inside the Brentford half – not for the first time two Swansea were on totally different wavelengths – the impressive Romaine Sawyers stole possession and from that moment on it was all about Brentford’s devastating pace on the counter-attack.
Said Benrahma, driving into the Swansea half, fed Neal Maupay and with Swansea left horribly exposed, the Brentford striker chose just the right moment to release Watkins, who was rampaging down the right flank. Without breaking his stride, Watkins swept a lovely right-footed shot beyond Nordfeldt and into the top corner.
The booing from the home supporters at half-time told a story, yet the turnaround at the start of the second half was extraordinary. Swansea were level within three minutes, Celina’s whipped free-kick from wide on the left cannoned off the foot of the post and struck Daniels, the Brentford keeper, on the back before rolling over the line.
Brentford then came desperately close to regaining the lead following an almighty scramble in the Swansea penalty area. It was end to end, no more so than when James set off on that exhilarating run to score Swansea’s second. It started with James closing Neal Maupay down on the edge of the Swansea area. What followed was remarkable as James knocked the ball out of his feet and left a trail of Brentford players in his wake, notably Kamohelo Mokotjo and Romaine Sawyers. In the blink of an eye, James was bearing down on goal and placing the ball past Daniels with the minimum of fuss.
Brentford were still reeling from that setback when Konsa received a straight red card for bringing down James in full flight. Although Swansea were denied a chance to add to their lead on that occasion, they wasted little time in making it 3-1. Celina wriggled clear of a couple of half-hearted challenges before curling a low shot into the far corner. Roberts then thought he had made it 4-1, only for the goal to be disallowed for offside. Byers, however, wrapped things up with he placed a low shot past Daniels after a neat exchange between James and Celina. – Guardian service