Man City 1-0 Brentford: Erling Haaland back on the scoresheet as champions close in on Liverpool

Erling Haaland put his recent frustration behind him (Action Images via Reuters)
Erling Haaland put his recent frustration behind him (Action Images via Reuters)

Erling Haaland returned to goalscoring form as Manchester City edged to a 1-0 win over Brentford.

A second-half strike, after a slip from Kristoffer Ajer, was enough to give the hosts all three points, lifting City up to second in the Premier League and just a point behind leaders Liverpool.

Haaland had an afternoon to forget over the weekend, wasting a number of chances as City were held to a draw by Chelsea, with the striker failing to score with any of his nine shots.

He had a quieter night as Brentford visited the Etihad. Brentford were the last team to beat City at home in November 2022 and, having also tested them in a 3-1 loss earlier this month, again caused them problems.

City, with Kevin De Bruyne on the bench, started the brighter, with Haaland shooting at Mark Flekken after just three minutes and Phil Foden also forcing a save and having another effort blocked.

But Brentford, to their credit, were not content to sit back and did pose a threat on the counter-attack. Yoane Wissa was denied a chance to shoot by a fine John Stones tackle and Frank Onyeka should have done better than firing straight at Ederson after being played through on goal.

Ivan Toney also shot narrowly over from a free-kick, but the hosts then laid siege to the Bees' goal and it was remarkable the opening period ended scoreless.

Julian Alvarez twice missed the target before Bernardo Silva planted a header the wrong side of a post from close range. Manuel Akanji had a good strike from distance tipped over by Flekken and Ruben Dias saw a header pushed away. Bobb looked certain to score after skipping around Christian Norgaard, but Mee stretched to clear off the line.

Oscar Bobb had an effort cleared off the line (Getty Images)
Oscar Bobb had an effort cleared off the line (Getty Images)

Brentford ended the first half with another chance as an Onyeka header was claimed at full stretch by Ederson and City were surprisingly slow to get going again after the break.

Guardiola tried to enliven proceedings by introducing Jeremy Doku on the hour, but the Bees responded by sending on the abrasive Neal Maupay, who clashed with Kyle Walker in the sides' recent meeting.

After Foden blazed an attempt well over, it began to look like it might take something special to break the deadlock and that moment duly arrived 19 minutes from time.

Brentford were pushing forward, but their attack was broken up and the ball quickly moved forward, with Rodri finding Alvarez and the Argentinian releasing Haaland.

The Norwegian still had more than half the length of the field to run, but he was quickly into his stride and breezed past a stumbling Kristoffer Ajer before slotting past Flekken from the edge of the area.

The goal was greeted with much relief, but Brentford were not done and Toney shot narrowly over after Dias gave away possession.

City might have had more late on, with Haaland having a header disallowed for offside and Flekken twice saving from Foden.

Additional reporting by PA Sport.