Manchester City 1-0 Brentford: 5 Hits and Flops as Erling Haaland scores solitary goal in a cagey match | Premier League 2023-24

Manchester City v Brentford FC - Premier League
Erling Haaland scoring against Brentford in the Premier League.

Manchester City secured a narrow 1-0 win over Brentford at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Tuesday, February 20. The result sees them jump back into second place, one point ahead of Arsenal, one behind Liverpool.

City entered this game on the back of a seven-game unbeaten run, which included six wins and a draw. Their last outing was a 1-1 draw against Chelsea at home - a game which Pep Guardiola's men will feel they should have won. The Spaniard was looking to keep up pace with the Gunners and Reds and fielded a strong XI.

Brentford, on the other hand, entered this game on the back of a rather forgettable run. They won two and lost three of their last five games, scoring nine goals and conceding 12 goals in that phase. Their last outing was a 4-1 humbling by Liverpool as Thomas Frank's men looked to put in a strong performance.

Manchester City made a strong start to the contest and dominated possession in the first half. With 69% of the ball, they controlled the flow of the game in Brentford's territory, allowing them to create many chances.

The hosts attempted a whopping 17 first-half attempts, with just six of those on target. They also completed nearly twice the amount of passes as their visitors as they looked to tire Brentford out by making them chase the game.

The teams were deadlocked at 0-0 at the break.

The second half saw Manchester City increase their possession to 72% but the frequency of shots plummetted. With just eight attempts and two of those on target, Guardiola's men used better decision-making in the second period.

Erling Haaland scored the only goal of the game in the 71st minute. Julian Alvarez played him through on goal and he slotted the ball past Mark Flekken with relative ease. City held on to secure three points, while Brentford fell to their 14th loss of the season.

That said, let's take a look at the five hits and flops from the game.

#5. Hit - Rodri (Manchester City)

The Spaniard put in another commanding performance for Manchester City in the middle of the park. He had an astounding 126 touches of the ball and passed the ball with 89% accuracy, including five key passes.

Rodri also won 11 duels, making four clearances, one interception and one tackle. He also attempted two shots but they were both off-target. However, his presence in midfield made it easier for his team to sustain their attacking pressure.

#4. Flop - Kristoffer Ajer (Brentford)

Despite having a fairly decent game as any defender would have against Manchester City, one mistake was Ajer's undoing.

When Foden played the ball through for Haaland in the 71st minute, the Norwegian was the last man between his compatriot and the goal. However, in a bid to close Haaland down, Ajer slipped and lost his footing, allowing the City forward a free run at goal.

He did make eight clearances and one block, and also played one key pass.

#3. Hit - Mark Flekken (Brentford)

The 30-year-old Dutch custodian had a great game between the sticks for Brentford. Coming up against a team that attempts shots at will, Flekken needed to be at his best to avoid a humiliation against the defending champions.

He made six good saves in the first half and capped it off with three more in the second period. He also made three clearances and distributed the ball with 54% accuracy. Six of his nine saves were from shots inside the box, while he also punched three crosses away.

#2. Flop - Ivan Toney (Brentford)

The talismanic striker could not make an impact on the game for the Bees as he was effectively shut out by the hosts. He had just 45 touches of the ball in 90 minutes but lost possession 18 times.

Toney won just seven of his 16 duels and attempted just two shots, with both of them off-target. Should Brentford have had any hopes of a result they needed him in top form.

#1. Hit - Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

With 17 goals and five assists in just 19 starts in the Premier League this season, Haaland has been Manchester City's main man once again.

He attempted a total of six shots but was met with a determined and in-form Mark Flekken in Brentford's goal. Haaland also won two duels and passed the ball with 94% accuracy.

In doing so, Erling Haaland joined Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka as the only three players to have faced three or more Premier League sides and contributed a goal against all of them.

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Edited by Arnav Kholkar