BRYAN MBEUMO scored a dramatic last-minute penalty to make it two home wins on the spin for Brentford.
Emmanuel Dennis’ first half header looked to have earned Watford all three points in west London as they continue to be unpredictable beasts under Claudio Ranieri.
And the Italian coach was close to dipping into his own pockets after promising his relegation battling boys a slap-up meal should they shut-out a Premier League opponent with a clean sheet.
But Pontus Jansson’s 84th minute equaliser ended those dreams before Mbeumo slotted home a spot-kick with seconds remaining to break Hornets hearts.
Bees boss Thomas Frank sunk to his knees in delight. Ranieri kicked his own chair uttering Italian swear words in disgust.
Ranieri made that clean sheet bet shortly after taking over on October 4.
Nine games later – having conceded a league-worst 21 goals in the process – the wait goes on, and the Watford squad will once again have empty bellies after a top flight clash.
Not that this sort of away-day performance – solid, disciplined and gritty – had been on the cards for the Hornets, having won just two of their previous eight games under Ranieri.
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Yet their shakiness at the back continues, something that could prove costly come the end of the season in their bid to beat the drop.
Brentford meanwhile had won just once in their last eight before tonight – but this three points will feel oh so sweet having beat Everton here last time out at home.
Thomas Frank’s Bees have dropped points against Norwich, Burnley, Newcastle and Leeds, four of the current bottom six.
They simply could not do the same against a side who could be battling alongside them for top flight safety come May.
And with Manchester United up next, this could be the time for Brentford’s form to suddenly turnaround despite their masses of injuries and coronavirus issues.
Defender Ethan Pinnock is the latest, missing out after testing positive for Covid-19 before kick-off – joining Ivan Toney – leaving Frank with just two fit centre-backs at the club.
Ranieri made three changes from the 3-1 home hammering to Manchester City, most notably dropping Danny Rose after claiming pre-match he was still “unfit”.
Fans were treated to a Friday night light display at Brentford’s new home – but the start to the game was anything but show-stopping. Scrappy and error-strewn from both sides.
Mbeumo was the one spark – without his trusted attack partner Toney – as he forced Daniel Bachmann into a stunning fingertip save with a curling effort on the counter.
But out of the blue, the visitors pounced. Joshua King’s long-range shot struck the post, and from the resulting corner Dennis rose highest unmarked in the six-yard box.
The Nigerian now has five goals in his last seven league games. No wonder Arsenal and Manchester United were reportedly interested before the Hornets landed him this summer.
Brentford began to show some nerves at the back as Charlie Goode clumsily bundled over Dennis in the box – but the weak penalty shouts were waved away.
The hosts emerged after the break with more of an attacking intent against one of the league’s worst defences as Watford sunk deeper and deeper.
On a rare Watford attack, Pontus Jansson was lucky not to be sent off for a tug on Moussa Sissoko after the Frenchman was played in on goal.
And amid several half chances for Brentford, the result could have been made certain up the other end but for King fluffing his lines late on with the goal gaping.
Watford paid the price as a penalty box pile-in saw Marcus Forss flick on was headed home by Jansson – kept onside replays showed by Kiko Femenia’s knee.
And it got worse as William Troost-Ekong stupidly hacked down Saman Ghoddos in the box in injury time as Mbeumo cooly sent Bachmann the wrong way in style.
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