Ivan Toney scored his 25th Championship goal of the season as second-placed Brentford fought back to beat Stoke and move within four points of leaders Norwich.
The hosts trailed after just 27 seconds when goalkeeper David Raya inexplicably passed straight to Potters wing-back Tommy Smith, who squared for Jacob Brown to tap in.
Thomas Frank’s side were lethargic in the first half, but levelled in style after the break through Vitaly Janelt’s arrowed strike into the top corner from nearly 25 yards.
Stoke hit the bar with Jordan Cousins’ lob, but left west London empty-handed after striker Toney slotted past Angus Gunn from Bryan Mbeumo’s nod-down.
Victory for Brentford, coupled with defeats for promotion rivals Watford and Swansea, left them three points clear of third place, while 10th-placed Stoke lost ground on the play-offs.
The Bees were caught cold in the opening minute which seemed to affect them for the rest of the first half, and Stoke could have been further ahead had Raya not made himself big to keep out Nick Powell from close range.
But when Germany Under-21 midfielder Janelt lashed home after the ball broke to him, the Bees woke up, with Sergi Canos’ cut-back almost finding Toney, and Saman Ghoddos forcing Gunn to tip over from 30 yards.
Michael O’Neill’s Stoke pressed surprisingly high throughout, but other than Cousins’ audacious effort they struggled to have much of an attacking impact in the second half and they are now winless in nine away league matches, losing their past three.
And the Championship’s leading scorer Toney – making his first start after a minor ankle knock – could not be kept quiet, using his predatory instinct to score the winner.
Reaction – ‘There’s no-one better than Toney’
Brentford head coach Thomas Frank:
“In all seasons but especially this one, every team will go through a dip at a certain stage, but it’s the ones that can handle it best that will be successful.
“In the second half we went from level five to level nine. We were quicker moving forward, we took the initiative, and we had a much bigger mentality and attitude.
“Ivan wants to be better every day and he knows instinctively what he wants to do in those situations. It is down to him but also the work behind the scenes.”
Stoke manager Michael O’Neill:
“Toney has proved there is not anyone better than him in this league. It’s a great finish and good anticipation and that’s what separates us in this game.
“In this league you need someone who is going to get into double figures and they have done a great job here and have replaced one prolific goalscorer with another.
“It seems like we’re taking a couple of steps forward and then a couple back, but we don’t want to be a team that settles for a comfortable position in the league.
“We didn’t anticipate we would gain promotion this year but we wanted to challenge for the top six. We don’t want to end up with nothing to play for.”
- 29Bech Sørensen
- 14DasilvaBooked at 18minsSubstituted forJensenat 59′minutes
- 27JaneltSubstituted forNørgaardat 77′minutes
- 20GhoddosSubstituted forMarcondesat 86′minutes
- 24Fosu-HenrySubstituted forCanósat 59′minutes
- 12ChesterSubstituted forClarkeat 83′minutes
- 4AllenBooked at 68mins
- 34ThompsonBooked at 25minsSubstituted forCousinsat 45′minutes
- 46Norrington-DaviesBooked at 35minsSubstituted forTymonat 45′minutes
- 18BrownSubstituted forVokesat 84′minutes
Match ends, Brentford 2, Stoke City 1.
Second Half ends, Brentford 2, Stoke City 1.
Attempt blocked. Bryan Mbeumo (Brentford) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Nick Powell (Stoke City) right footed shot from the left side of the box is too high following a set piece situation.
Foul by Sergi Canós (Brentford).
Jack Clarke (Stoke City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. Ivan Toney (Brentford) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Henrik Dalsgaard with a cross.
Foul by Mathias Jensen (Brentford).
Nick Powell (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Mathias Jensen (Brentford).
Joe Allen (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Brentford. Emiliano Marcondes replaces Saman Ghoddos.
Attempt missed. Ivan Toney (Brentford) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Bryan Mbeumo.
Substitution, Stoke City. Sam Vokes replaces Jacob Brown.
Substitution, Stoke City. Jack Clarke replaces James Chester.
Attempt blocked. James Chester (Stoke City) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Tommy Smith with a cross.
Foul by Christian Nørgaard (Brentford).
Harry Souttar (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Goal! Brentford 2, Stoke City 1. Ivan Toney (Brentford) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Bryan Mbeumo with a headed pass.
Substitution, Brentford. Christian Nørgaard replaces Vitaly Janelt.