At the final whistle, Jürgen Klopp could not stop shaking his head in disbelief.
Somehow his Liverpool side had contrived to throw away victory against a Brentford side that simply never stopped believing.
While Klopp can console himself with the fact that his side are a point clear at the top after Mohamed Salah scored his 100th Premier League goal, he will know they must improve considerably if they are to go all the way again this season as their defensive weaknesses were exposed time and again.
A spirited performance from Brentford that sparked into life with Ethan Pinnock’s opener and was rounded off by Yoane Wissa’s equaliser eight minutes from time could have been even worse for Liverpool had it not been for a last-ditch tackle from Virgil van Dijk, even if a draw was probably the fair result from a pulsating game.
By quirk of fate after earlier results, all four of this season’s likely title contenders were on 13 points when this match kicked off, not to mention Rafael Benítez’s resurgent Everton. Klopp, who led his players off the pitch after the warm-up by sprinting down the tunnel, clearly recognised the significance of Liverpool’s first experience of this sparkling new stadium.
Brentford’s joy was short-lived, however. A brilliant cross from Jordan Henderson allowed Diogo Jota to ghost in front of his marker and guide home the equaliser. It was the kind of match that you could not take your eyes off for a second. Only the woodwork and an excellent save from David Raya to deny Jones and then Jota prevented Liverpool from going in ahead at half-time, with the injured Pinnock’s evening coming to a premature end as he was replaced by Mathias Jørgensen.
Thomas Frank looked more than satisfied with his side at the break but the Brentford manager must have been prepared for the onslaught that was to come. Alexander-Arnold and Robertson pushed forward at the start of the second half as a signal of Liverpool’s intent and it did not take them long to find the breakthrough after Raya saved Jota’s effort from point-blank range.
Fabinho’s floated ball to the back post deceived all of the Brentford defence and there was Salah to volley home his landmark goal despite the assistant referee initially flagging him offside.
Replays showed it was Canós who had played the Egyptian onside. But Brentford will always offer a threat going forward and they again found a way through Liverpool’s brittle defence. Pontus Jansson’s shot crashed off the bar after a cross into the box before Vitaly Janelt was able to nod the ball just over the line despite Alexander-Arnold’s best efforts to get there first. Parity lasted all of three minutes, though, as Jones let fly from the edge of the box and his shot deflected off the unfortunate Ajer to beat Raya at his near post.
That proved to be his last act as Roberto Firmino was introduced from the bench, with Salah wasting a golden chance to wrap up the points after Sadio Mané’s through ball. How he would come to regret that when Wissa – on as a late substitute just four minutes earlier – coolly lifted the ball over Alisson to earn a deserved point.
Gabriel Jesus has scored the only goal as champions Manchester City beat Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge to move level on points with their Premier League title rivals and gain revenge for their Champions League final defeat.
City lost three times to Chelsea in the space of six weeks at the end of last season, including the Champions League showdown in Lisbon, but Pep Guardiola finally got the better of Thomas Tuchel in Saturday’s contest.
It proved a big day for City whose cross-city neighbours Manchester United lost at home 1-0 to Aston Villa after a calamitous finish which saw their star player Bruno Fernandes fire a stoppage-time penalty over the bar.
At Stamford Bridge, City were largely dominant and deservedly opened the scoring eight minutes after the restart through a heavily deflected Jesus shot.
That sparked the game into life as City missed two big chances and Romelu Lukaku had a goal ruled out, though Jesus’s strike proved to be the difference as top-flight champions City inflicted a first defeat of the season on the European champions.
Tuchel shifted from his usual 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2 to accommodate Timo Werner and Lukaku up top for the first time and Chelsea struggled to get going. Bruno Fernandes blazed a stoppage-time penalty over the crossbar as Aston Villa earned a shock 1-0 victory at a below-par Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday.
At Old Trafford, Kortney Hause’s 88th-minute header had put Villa on course for the surprise win, but the same player’s handball then gifted United an opportunity to steal a point in stoppage-time, only for Fernandes to dramatically miss the target.
Fernandes had grabbed the ball and placed it on the spot ahead of his compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo and looked set to snatch his side an undeserved draw, but hammered his attempt into the stands, leaving United to taste their first league defeat of the season.