EPL

Brentford and Brighton battle to goalless draw

By Sports Desk April 03, 2024

Brighton could not turn a lucrative week off the pitch into a profitable one on it after they were held to a goalless draw at Brentford.

The Seagulls announced on Tuesday an eye-watering annual profit of £122.8million, a record for an English club, following the most successful season in their history.

Chairman Tony Bloom celebrated by taking his place among the away fans for the match he probably wants to win more than any other, even over arch-rivals Crystal Palace.

Bloom refuses to go into the directors’ box at the Gtech Stadium as he and Bees owner Matthew Benham had an almighty fall-out over their business interests some 20 years ago.

Unfortunately that simmering feud was not matched by the on-pitch hostilities in a drab stalemate in west London.

It meant Brighton, who finished sixth last season, failed to take advantage of West Ham, Newcastle and Wolves all dropping points a day earlier in the race for European places.

Brentford, meanwhile, edged another point clear of the relegation zone – they are now six above 18th-placed Luton.

The Bees almost opened the scoring early on after a sweeping move from one end of the pitch to the other.

The ball came from Nathan Collins, via Ivan Toney and Mathias Jensen, to Keane Lewis-Potter whose near-post cross was put narrowly wide by Yoane Wissa.

Toney’s first sight of goal came after half an hour after he was played into the area by Wissa.

The England striker turned inside Jan Paul van Hecke 12 yards out but lost his footing slightly and Bart Verbruggen saved his scuffed shot.

For Brighton, top scorer Joao Pedro, back after two months out injured, drew a save from Bees keeper Mark Flekken and Van Hecke’s shot was deflected over.

Facundo Buonanotte then fired across goal and wide, Adam Lallana was also off target and Flekken saved from Simon Adingra.

Referee Andrew Madley was sent to take a look at the pitchside monitor by the VAR for a potential penalty for a foul by Wissa on Lewis Dunk in first-half stoppage time but he stuck with his decision and ruled in favour of the Bees forward.

At the start of the second half Pedro’s cross found overlapping Brighton full-back Joel Veltman but his shot was always rising as it sailed into the stands.

Toney, without a goal in his previous six matches, took aim with a free-kick from 25 yards but sent it high over the crossbar.

Substitute Danny Welbeck had two chances in stoppage time to win it for Brighton but he headed a corner wide and then fizzed a low drive the wrong side of the far post as a distinctly low-key encounter ended goalless.

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    Daniel Farke admitted the killer instinct of Blackburn’s Sammie Szmodics was lacking from his Leeds side after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat dealt a blow to their automatic promotion hopes.

    Leeds dominated the Championship encounter at Elland Road but could not turn possession into goals.

    Farke’s side remain third in the table when a win would have seen them seize the initiative from top two Leicester and Ipswich.

    Farke said: “When you face a side like Blackburn with a player like Szmodics, he showed the quality which we didn’t show today and he needed just one chance to score.

    “So many balls went through the box, but you also need to show the quality to put the ball in the net.

    “If you don’t score you have so much more risk. There is also a danger there will be one moment for your opponent and they can score. It’s pretty disappointing and frustrating for us.

    “We didn’t put the ball into the net. If you don’t score, you can’t win the game.”

    Despite his players missing the chance to steal a march on their rivals, Farke refused to put the blame on them.

    He said: “It’s up to me if we don’t score – to find solutions. I have to work with them so that in the next game we create more chances.

    “It’s up to us in training to work on our efficiency and create more chances. Today we have created more than enough chances to score. I’m not the guy to point the finger at the players when we don’t score.

    “If a team fights to survive and fights against relegation, if they try to annoy us with time wasting and whatever, it’s nothing that I can influence.”

    Szmodics dealt the killer blow with a cool finish eight minutes from time as the visitors went route one.

    Sam Gallagher headed on a long ball from Aynsley Pears before Tyrhys Dolan turned and fed Szmodics and he did the rest with a composed finish past Illan Meslier.

    The Leeds goalkeeper had saved from Szmodics with Blackburn’s only effort of the first period, while Pears had saved from Crysencio Summerville, Wilfried Gnonto and Connor Roberts as the home side failed to make their dominance pay.

    Blackburn head coach John Eustace was full of praise for his side.

    He said: “I was very proud of the effort the boys have given me since I came in, it has been outstanding.

    “To come here and play like we did was great. We had a game plan without the ball. I am delighted with the effort and very proud of them.”

    Blackburn bounced back from a 5-0 defeat at Bristol City in midweek and that resilience was what pleased Eustace the most.

    He added: “Wednesday was a bit of a blip. That certainly wasn’t a team that I have been a part of. We have been very difficult to beat.

    “It’s very important that we keep working hard, sticking together. We have three games left and we still need points.”

    Eustace praised Szmodics, adding: “Sammie, without his goals this season, we really would have been in trouble. The rest of the group have created those chances for him.

    “Since I’ve been here he has been magnificent. To score 30 goals in the Championship is a fantastic effort.”

  • Antoine Griezmann bags brace as Atletico Madrid beat Girona Antoine Griezmann bags brace as Atletico Madrid beat Girona

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  • Sammie Szmodics nets late Blackburn winner as Leeds suffer blow in promotion bid Sammie Szmodics nets late Blackburn winner as Leeds suffer blow in promotion bid

    Sammie Szmodics dealt a crushing blow to Leeds’ automatic promotion hopes as Blackburn claimed a late 1-0 Championship win at Elland Road.

    Defeat stopped the home side going top of the table as Rovers defended for long periods of the game.

    Crysencio Summerville, Wilfried Gnonto and Connor Roberts all tested Blackburn goalkeeper Aynsley Pears in a dominant first half for Leeds.

    The home side also had chances after the break but were punished by Szmodics with eight minutes to go.

    Leeds were on the front foot from the off as Joel Piroe’s shot was deflected for a corner.

    Hayden Carter tripped Summerville and his free-kick from a narrow angle was saved by Pears, who also punched away the follow-up shot from Gnonto from the edge of the area.

    The game was being played mostly in Blackburn’s half and Leeds forced two corners in succession with 20 minutes gone – but they were unable to break the deadlock.

    Ethan Ampadu headed a Roberts free-kick off target as Leeds kept up the pressure with nearly half-an-hour on the clock.

    Ilia Gruev missed the best chance so far but his near-post shot from Gnonto’s low ball following a corner did not trouble Pears.

    Roberts was the next to test the Rovers stopper with a curling shot from outside the area which he saved high to his left at the expense of a corner.

    Szmodics forced Illan Meslier into action for the first time from a Blackburn breakaway with the goalkeeper diving low to his left to keep out the shot, five minutes before the break.

    Gruev fired at Pears with the first effort of the second half after Joe Rodon’s vital interception and surging run.

    Gnonto shot wide across the face of goal but with nearly an hour gone, Leeds were still looking for the opening goal.

    Meslier put his side under pressure when his throw went to a Blackburn player but luckily for him when the ball was passed to Joe Rankin-Costello, he fired wide.

    Blackburn sensed a chance and Szmodics crossed low from the right but he could not find a team-mate with the Leeds goal gaping, with Roberts stretching to stop Tyrhys Dolan getting a touch.

    Georginio Rutter’s shot into a crowded area saw Pears dive low to his left then claim the loose ball.

    A cross from Gnonto spun onto the post and then the winger just failed to get a touch to a Dan James cross.

    Substitute Patrick Bamford headed over as Leeds cranked up the pressure and they were made to pay when Szmodics struck the decisive blow, eight minutes from time.

    Sam Gallagher nodded on Pears’ kick, Dolan turned and released his team-mate and Szmodics finished coolly past Meslier.

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