In their final game before the 2022 World Cup, Manchester City were beaten 2-1 by Brentford FC at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League.
A first-half header from Ivan Toney gave Thomas Frank's side the lead, but that was cancelled out right on half-time with Phil Foden grabbing an astonishing equaliser for the Blues. Toney went on to score a 98th-minute winner for the visitors.
As predicted, Pep Guardiola made a vast amount of changes from the midweek Carabao Cup victory against Chelsea, with only Aymeric Laporte, Rodri and captain Ilkay Gundogan keeping their spots in the starting XI.
The in-form Julian Alvarez was amongst the large contingent of players who dropped to the bench.
Starting XI: Ederson, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Manuel Akanji, Joao Cancelo, Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Erling Haaland, Phil Foden.
It took just three minutes for the first clear chance of the game, but rather surprisingly it came Brentford's way. A long launch forward from David Raya caused trouble for the Blues' defence with Ivan Toney winning the flick-on. Only a good stop by Ederson denied Frank Onyeka of the opener.
Just moments later, Brentford earned their second big opportunity. Breaking down City's right-flank, Rico Henry whipped in an inviting ball which Ederson clawed into the direction of Bryan Mbeumo, who squared the ball towards Toney - the Englishman struck goal-bound, but a last-gasp diving save from Ederson saved City.
Then, Brentford took a deserved lead through Toney. Defender Ben Mee rose above Akanji and glanced the ball over to the English striker, who headed over Ederson and into the back of the net.
Halfway through the half, with City behind, VAR controversy struck. The first of two penalties denied came when Bernardo Silva flicked the ball around Henry, who seemed to stick his hands up and block the ball. VAR had other ideas. The contact appeared to take place in the box – however, VAR ruled otherwise and awarded the Blues a free-kick on the edge of the area. City were then denied another penalty, with Henry bringing De Bruyne to the ground – VAR didn't give it.
As the half-time whistle loomed, Guardiola's side got their deserved equaliser. De Bruyne crossed in City's sixth corner, this time towards Akanji at the front post. The Swiss defender flicked the ball on towards Foden, who was free near the back-stick. City's academy graduate cleanly sliced his volleyed rocket straight past Raya and into the net.
20 minutes into the second half, City created their first significant chance of the second period. De Bruyne released a threaded pass to Gundogan, who played a one-two with Haaland. The German then struck over the bar from close range.
Shortly after, Brentford once again carved open City's defence on the counter. Henry found himself behind Stones; the wing-back squared the ball back across goal, with only an immense piece of defending by the bandaged Laporte stopping Toney from tapping into an empty net.
Despite all the possession, City struggled to break down Brentford's low block, and it was the visitors who wasted another opportunity late on. Inside the area, Toney skipped past Laporte and poked the ball towards goal, but Ederson had other ideas, with the Brazilian keeper smothering his effort.
Toney then grabbed a 98th-minute winner following a counter attack after tapping in a squared ball across the box.
He could have had a hat-trick from a similar situation had it not been for a De Bruyne goal-line clearance.
Ederson - 7.5
Stones - 6
Akanji - 5
Laporte - 6
Cancelo - 6
Rodri - 7
Gundogan - 5.5
De Bruyne - 5
Silva - 6
Haaland - 6
Foden - 6.5
Well, that's it for the Blues until after the Qatar World Cup. They return the week commencing the 19th of December to face rivals Liverpool in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
Written by: @TomCayless_
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