This was as good as football can possibly get. Times change, decades roll on, but some things are worth waiting over 70 years for, not least this fabulous first league encounter between Brentford and Liverpool since May 1947. One of the great teams of Europe visited the self-styled “bus stop in Hounslow” and it was hard to tell just who was who. Both Brentford and Liverpool scored three goals, but both could have had another three in one of the great Premier League games.
“This is what we were dreaming about in the Championship,” smiled Thomas Frank, the Brentford head coach. “A stadium rocking and rolling and a game we’ll remember forever. We’ve scored three goals against the best defence in the league and we still believe we can do better. I’m crazy, crazy proud.”
George Stewart, a former World War II airman, and the South African Bob Priday are mere footnotes in the history of Brentford and Liverpool respectively, but they both scored at Anfield in 1947. Liverpool were about to claim the old first division title and Brentford were already relegated. Not everything repeats itself.
Certainly Liverpool took their hosts seriously and if a team with their smorgasbord of talents can be said to have a first choice starting XI, this was probably it. Afterwards, their manager Jurgen Klopp was rather less generous than his defence.
“A wild game. They deserved their point and we struggled to cope with their long ball game. They could have scored one more, but we played some of our best football of the season and could have had another four or five.”
The sense of occasion was almost palpable: a full stadium, Hey Jude blaring out at ear-splitting volume and the sense that both sets of fans, for very different reasons, had to pinch themselves that they were there. What followed, though, was an occasion in itself.
Liverpool settled first, keen to get out of town with three points and little in the way of fuss or ado. In that, they would be thwarted. Curtis Jones, the only starter who also began the midweek Carabao Cup game at Norwich, caused problems seven minutes in when he won possession near the halfway line and found Diogo Jota, who threaded the ball through for Mohamed Salah to bear down on David Raya. The Egyptian effortlessly beat the Spaniard and rolled the ball towards the empty goal. Salah’s sixth goal of the season looked certain until Kristoffer Ajer appeared from nowhere to hook the ball off the line.
If that was high drama, so too was Brentford’s response. The let off meant lift-off. A magnificent Toney headed flick unleashed Bryan Mbuemo. Like Salah, he beat the goalkeeper with ruthless precision. Mbuemo’s third goal of the season looked certain until Joel Matip appeared from nowhere to hook the ball off the line.
Brentford were no longer overawed and they went ahead with a training ground classic. To a yellow-shirted man, Liverpool expected a deep cross from a free kick on the right touchline, but the outstanding Vitaly Janelt rolled it gently to Christian Norgaard who spotted the overlapping Sergi Canos. With Liverpool still oblivious, Canos was given the space to cross low. Toney cleverly backheeled, Pontus Janssen swung and missed the open goal, but Ethan Pinnock nipped in ahead of Fabinho at the back post to bundle home his first Premier League goal.
Shortly afterwards, Pinnock damaged his hip and he was still hobbling when Liverpool equalised four minutes later. Trent Alexander-Arnold hoofed the ball forwards towards Salah, who found Jordan Henderson, a 31-year-old overlapping like a 21-year-old. Henderson’s cross was deep and, with Pinnock still shuffling back, Jota headed firmly past Raya.
The game continued to sizzle. Pinnock would not make it to half-time, but he was instrumental in keeping his team level when he deflected Jones’s goalbound drive onto the post. The ball fell kindly for Jota who shot goalwards, only for the grounded Raya to somehow reach out and tip the ball aside: a save of the season in a game of the season.
Startled by that first half, Liverpool attempted to seal the deal in the early stages of the second and this time they did go ahead. Fabinho hoisted a pass into the penalty area. Salah read it quicker than Rico Henry and swept it past Raya. Indeed, so quick was Salah’s movement that initially referee Stuart Attwell disallowed it for offside. VAR intervened, noted Canos had not kept the defensive line, and Salah had reached his 100th Premier League goal in fewer games than any Liverpool player.
Surely Brentford would fade. Not as bit of it. Instead, they levelled when, under the eye of Germany manager Hansi Flick, Hamburg-born Janelt headed into an unguarded goal after Jansson had headed Canos’s cross onto the bar.
What now? Back came Liverpool, back into the lead for a third time went Liverpool. This time, Robertson expertly played the ball into Jones’s path and ran into space, taking two defenders with him. From the edge of the penalty area, the England Under-21 international smashed his first of the season past Raya, albeit with the help of a Ajer deflection.
Was there time for another twist? Most certainly. Shandon Baptise crossed. Alexander-Arnold found himself outnumbered at the back post. Toney made a nuisance of himself and the ball fell to Yoane Wissa, who, cute as you like, dinked the equaliser over Alisson. What a moment, what a game.
As it happened:
What an end to the Saturday fixtures!
That's all for today. Thanks for joining us. We'll be back tomorrow as Southampton host Wolves at 2pm, before the north London derby when Spurs travel to the Emirates. That game kicks off at 4.30pm.
Wissa's equaliser lifts the roof off the Brentford Community Stadium!
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) September 25, 2021
FULL-TIME: BRENTFORD 3-3 LIVERPOOL
And it ends all square in this stunning six-goal thriller at the Brentford Community Stadium in west London.
Brentford will be delighted with that result - but it was well earned too.
David Raya had at least two world class saves to deny Liverpool goals, and both Toney and Mbeumo looked lethal at Liverpool's goal mouth.
Back-and-forth here! It's anyone's game.
Ivan Toney is almost one-on-one at the Liverpool end, but is expertly tackled by van Dijk.
Straight up the other end, David Raya produces another world class stop to deny Liverpool.
Mbeumo wins the ball in the final third and slots a ball box, but no-one is there to get on the end of it. Alisson gathers.
Five added minutes... lots could change.
Ivan Toney! He's slotted the ball into the back of the net, but one quick look at that and he's offside.
What a match, and what a nervy few minutes for Liverpool. Brentford are pushing them all the way tonight.
82 mins -GOAL: BRENTFORD 3-3 LIVERPOOL
...Baptiste fires in a cross. There's a scramble in the box but Yoane Wissa gets a clear final touch to push it over the line.
Liverpool counting the cost of missed opportunities now. They're being made to work for this!
Liverpool corner here to be taken by Alexander-Arnold. It's fired in and cleared by Baptiste, Mane gets another cross in from the left, but Canos forces it out for a corner on the other side.
Robertson's resulting corner on the right is comfortably plucked out the air by Raya. Brentford go straight up the other end....
Mo Salah misses one-on-one! Mane threads him through exquisitely and it's all set up for him, onto his left foot. He takes one touch and then fires it just over Raya... but also over the crossbar.
A huge chance and a rare miss for the Egyptian international.
Yellow card for Robertson for a foul on Baptiste.
Another set piece chance for Brentford in a dangerous position on the right hand side; it's whipped in and Alisson punches away. Brentford keep knocking.
67 mins - subs
That was Jones' last touch of the game as he is replaced by Firmino.
For Brentford, Baptiste comes on for Onyeka.
66 mins - GOAL: BRENTFORD 2-3 LIVERPOOL
What a strike from Curtis Jones!
He must be 25 yards out there as he smashes it towards goal. It takes a small deflection of Ajer's knee and it goes over Raya's gloves and into the back of the net. What a response!
62 mins - GOAL: BRENTFORD 2-2 LIVERPOOL
What a response from Brentford! It's against the run of play, Liverpool have been looking dominant this second half.
It's three Brentford shirts against one on the far post as the cross comes in, the first attempt hits the bar, but it falls to Vitaly Janelt who heads it over the line - this one can't be cleared.
You can't write Brentford off!
54 mins - GOAL: BRENTFORD 1-2 LIVERPOOL
And it stands after a VAR review! A fantastic cross comes in from the left hand side and Salah is just onside as he runs onto it on the right side of the box before slotting it coolly home.
That's his 100th goal for Liverpool - and in just 151 appearances.
SALAH! But is it a goal - it's going to VAR.
Jota! Almost again there.
The ball flies into the box, Henderson misses it and it falls to Jota rather unexpectedly. His first touch is too hard and he can't control it well enough to get the shot away.
Some searching crosses from Liverpool this second half; Brentford need to stay alert.
Mbeumo comes into the box with the ball at his feet, but van Dijk gets to him to knock the ball out for a corner, Brentford's first of the game.
And we're back
Brentford get the second half underway.
Here's Liverpool's equaliser: Jota rises to a wonderfully weighted Henderson cross
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 25, 2021
Set piece perfection for Brentford's goal...
🚨 HALF-TIME | Brentford 1-1 Liverpool 🚨
Liverpool equalised through Diogo Jota shortly after this Brentford opener from Ethan Pinnock 👇
📺 Watch live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 25, 2021
HALF TIME: BRENTFORD 1-1 LIVERPOOL
All square at the Brentford Community Stadium with not too much to choose between the 2019/20 champions and the newly-promoted side.
Both sides have had their share of chances, Liverpool with a few more. Both have have forced goal-line clearances.
It's been a genuinely exciting encounter so far and we're looking forward to more of the same after the break.
Matip comfortably deals with a long throw to set-up a Liverpool counter attack, but convincing defending by Brentford quickly snuffs it out.
Alexander-Arnold hits it on his right foot, but lifts it up and over Raya's crossbar.
Three minutes of added time to come.
Yellow card for Onyeka after a barnstorming run by Robertson.
A potentially dangerous Liverpool free kick just outside the box with just a couple of minutes before the whistle. Who will step up?
41 mins - Brentford sub
Now Ethan Pinnock comes off. He's clearly been playing in pain.
He's replaced by Mathias Jørgensen
Jota denied by a remarkable stop by Raya!
Alexander-Arnold's shot takes a deflection and hits the left post. It falls to Jota who fires towards goal with his left foot, just a few yards out, but Raya somehow makes himself big enough to deny the Portuguese forward. Incredible goalkeeping!
Lots of red and white shirts getting forward to attack the Brentford crosses.
Very positive play here from the west London club - and they're being rewarded with plenty of opportunities.
Ethan Pinnock is still on and he's going to fire in a long throw... but there's not enough reach on it.
It looks like goal scorer Ethan Pinnock is coming off; he's clearly in pain and is not going to be able to continue here. Jorgensen is likely to replace him.
30 mins GOAL: BRENTFORD 1-1 LIVERPOOL
Well, that didn't last long...
Salah slots through to Henderson on the right who has plenty of time to pick his man in the box.
He loops a cross in to a waiting Jota who rises up and heads home.
27 mins GOAL: BRENTFORD 1-0 LIVERPOOL
Ethan Pinnock gets his first Premier League goal! It's from a fantastically played set-piece.
The free kick on the right is played short to Nørgaard who sends Canós on his way down the right hand side. He takes a couple of touches before firing it across the face of goal where there are at least three Brentford shirts waiting.
Pinnock runs into the far post and slots it home!
Mbeumo is through one-on-one with Alisson, but he's well offside there. Still, this striking partnership of Mbeumo and Toney looks lethal. All credit to Brentford for bringing the game to Liverpool.
Toney plays in Mbeumo, who gets into the box and is clipped by a yellow shirt, but he stays on his feet.
Stuart Attwell has a look at it but decides there's nothing in it. Right decision.
Salah tries to steer one towards Mane in the box, but Raya's able to read that and collects it comfortably.
And it's cleared off the goal line at the other end! Mbeumo chips it over Alisson's hands, but Matip is back there to clear the goal line.
It looks like we're in for a treat here!
A busy day for defenders if this continues.
A couple of big chances for Brentford up the other end. The second sees Mbeumo dribble into Liverpool's box, but he's surrounded by yellow shirts.
He manages to get a pass away to Onyeka who lashes at it and sends it over the bar.
Ajer denies Salah on the line!
Curtis Jones threads a perfectly weighted pass to Salah, who gets one-on-one with Raya. He dinks it round him, but Ajer manages to sprint back and pull it back, inches from the goal line. So close!
Jordan Henderson with a searching cross in from the right. Curtis Jones clashes with Kristoffer Ajer, who goes down and receives medical treatment in the box. It looks like he's hit his head on Jones' shoulder.
And we're away at the Brentford Community Stadium
The 90 minutes begins!
After today's earlier results, Liverpool are protecting the last unbeaten record in the Premier League this season.
A reminder of the starting line-ups
Brentford: Raya, Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock, Canos, Onyeka, Norgaard, Janelt, Henry, Mbeumo, Toney
Subs: Fernandez, Jensen, Forss, Wissa, Ghoddos, Zanka, Baptiste, Bidsrtup, Roerslev
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Jones, Mane, Salah, Jota
Subs: Kelleher, Konate, Milner, Firmino, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino, Tsimikas, Origi
Stuart Attwell is the referee today.
The players are out the tunnel
We'll be underway in just a couple of minutes!
Kristoffer Ajer on today's opponents
Kristoffer Ajer's family have made the trip over from Norway to watch their beloved Liverpool - but they will do so to cheer on Brentford against Jurgen Klopp's men.
Ajer said of Liverpool:
We know how strong they are at the back as well as the quality they have up front. It is a team full of talent and the way they press and the way they attack, it's amazing.
So, it is going to be a tough game but we know if we defend strongly and defend as well as we did against Wolves we have players offensively who can create opportunities and score so it is going to be a very tough one.
Liverpool are big, big favourites but maybe that suits us well.
Thomas Frank ahead of kick-off... he's relishing this evening's challenge
🐝 "It's a massive challenge but we're up for it."
Hear from Thomas Frank ahead of Brentford vs Liverpool 🔊
📺 Watch live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event pic.twitter.com/GHy6Dl7fli
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 25, 2021
The teams are completing their warm-ups...
Can Ivan Toney dent Liverpool's defence tonight?
Ivan Toney scored 31 goals last term to fire the Bees to promotion from the Championship, but now manager Thomas Frank believes the in-form striker can continue to thrive in the top tier.
He's faced a lot of setbacks in his career and that's where you get tested on your resilience, and he's shown himself to be very resilient, and he's got that tough mentality and belief.
Ivan is very intelligent, because he's reflecting, and he deserves a lot of praise himself for also coming into a well-run club and listening to all the small bits and adding extra layers to his development and performance.
If you want to be a top player you need to work hard, constantly reflect and want to learn and then of course you need to have that confidence that he's got so naturally.
He's coming across so fantastically: he's humble, calm, but with a mindset of a lion.
Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita sidelined with injury, but won't be out for long
Liverpool pair Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita remain injured, but Klopp does not expect them to be sidelined for too long.
Thiago has a calf injury and Keita hurt his foot in the midweek Carabao Cup win at Norwich.
Of Keita, Klopp said:
"It's nothing really serious, but it keeps him out of the next game [today] for sure and maybe a little longer, we will have to see.
"It's nothing serious, but it's obviously painful and we have to see how he we can deal with that."
And here's the team sheet for Liverpool
The team news is in. Just one change to the Brentford side after their win over Wolves last weekend
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) September 25, 2021
Klopp wants solution to club versus-country row with Brazil
Hello and welcome to coverage of the late kick-off which sees Liverpool travel to west London to face a Brentford side that has picked up eight points from their first five matches.
The Bees have already claimed 2-0 Premier League wins over Arsenal and Wolves but will face the biggest test since their promotion on Saturday evening.
The match comes as Jurgen Klopp demands a government solution to the club versus-country row with Brazil over Covid quarantine rules.
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker and midfielder Fabinho are among eight Premier League players included in Brazil's squad for World Cup qualifiers next month against Venezuela, Colombia and Uruguay.
Premier League clubs refused to release players earlier this month for World Cup qualifiers in countries on the Government's 'red' travel list because of the 10-day quarantine rule.
In response, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and three other national associations asked world governing body FIFA to bar the players from club duty for five days before withdrawing their request a day before the next round of Premier League fixtures.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the possibility of quarantine exemptions for Premier League players earlier this week and Klopp hopes a fresh row can be avoided.
Klopp said: "There must be a solution obviously, because we cannot just leave it like this and say it's not a problem.
"We have a 12.30 kick-off at Watford (October 16). The game in Brazil is on Friday night (October 15), so obviously nobody has thought about that yet.
"I know it's a Liverpool problem and nobody else's problem, and good for Watford.
"But I just don't know how you can do these kind of things where nobody reacts on the schedule. We have two problems. One is the schedule, it was always a problem.
"Another thing, it's not good for the players or the clubs as well and I hope the Government comes up with some kind of solution."
Premier League clubs were updated on the progress of talks between the league, the Government and FIFA at a league shareholders' meeting in London on Wednesday.
The clubs hope an agreement can be reached so their international players can avoid going into quarantine for 10 days when they return.