Brentford 3-1 Swansea City (Brentford win 3-2 on aggregate)
Swansea City’s promotion dream came to an end as they were beaten by Brentford who booked their place in the Championship play-off final after a 3-1 win at Griffin Park.
The Bees were much the better of the two sides for the majority of what was a fast-paced second leg, and they raced into a two-goal lead on the night thanks to goals from top scorer Ollie Watkins and Emiliano Marcondes.
They added to their tally straight after half-time through Bryan Mbeumo, leaving Swansea needing to score twice.
To their credit, the away side went for broke and saw Rhian Brewster net his 11th goal since joining Swansea on loan from Liverpool in January as Swansea looked to stage a late comeback.
But Steve Cooper’s men had left themselves with too much to do as they missed out on a date with Wembley after a dramatic semi-final tussle with the Bees.
Swansea made just one change to the team that took to the field for the first leg as Kyle Naughton – available again after serving a three-match ban – started in place of Ben Cabango who dropped to the bench.
As for the hosts, they also made one alteration as Marcondes came in for Josh Dasilva, with Rico Henry starting after his suspension was rescinded by the FA following a successful appeal from the Bees.
Regardless of the outcome, it was set to be an emotional occasion for the hosts who were playing at Griffin Park for the last time ahead of their stadium move in the summer.
And Thomas Frank had done his bit when it came to stirring the pot before a ball was even kicked in the second leg after claiming he was “100% sure” that Brentford would emerge victorious following their frustrating 1-0 first leg defeat at the Liberty Stadium.
Swansea refused to sit on their lead and aimed to press in the opening minutes, although Erwin Mulder had to pat away Marcondes’ swerving shot from distance after just five minutes.
But Brentford took control and went ahead in the 11th minute as Mathias Jensen’s sublime through ball set Watkins free, and the striker coolly slotted beyond Mulder to level the tie with what was his 26th goal of the campaign.
And it went from bad to worse for the visitors just four minutes later as Marcondes headed home Said Benrahma’s cross to give the Bees the advantage in the contest.
Brentford were well and truly delivering on Frank’s promise of a flying start, but, despite looking shell-shocked, Swansea should have pulled a goal back when Conor Gallagher found himself in a one-on-one situation with David Raya, but the Brentford goalkeeper pulled off a fine one-handed save.
In similar fashion to their opener, Brentford broke in stunning fashion after Gallagher’s effort, although Benrahma’s strike hit the inside of the post.
After a frantic opening, Swansea showed signs of settling as the first-half wore on. However, they survived a real scare shortly before the break as Brentford broke after Matt Grimes lost possession, but Mike van der Hoorn tracked back well to thwart Mbeumo as the hosts led the match and the semi-final at half-time.
Cooper made a double change for the second-half, with Yan Dhanda and Cabango replacing Jay Fulton and van der Hoorn respectively.
But Swansea were left with a mountain to climb shortly after the restart as Mbeumo – who netted in both of the regular season meetings between the sides – volleyed Henry’s cross beyond Mulder from around 10 yards out to put Frank’s troops in command.
The Swans desperately struggled to create any clear cut openings, and they were grateful to see Ethan Pinnock’s bullet header fly over on 55 minutes.
With time running out, Swansea pushed forward after the hour mark and came close to reducing the deficit when Connor Roberts cut in from the right flank and drilled at goal, although Raya was equal to the effort.
But they set-up a tense finish as Brewster looped over Raya after a mistake from Pontus Jansson with 12 minutes left on the clock.
Benrahma almost settled it seven minutes from time, only to see his rasping effort clip the top of the crossbar as Swansea continued to press at the other end.
But they couldn’t find an all-important second to force the tie into injury-time as they suffered play-off heartache at the end of what was a hugely encouraging debut campaign under head coach Cooper.
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Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson (C), Pinnock, Henry; Jensen, Norgaard, Marcondes (Dasilva 75); Mbeumo (Canos 75), Benrahma, Watkins.
Subs not used: Daniels, Valencia, Dervisoglu, Jeanvier, Fosu, Zamburek, Roerslev.
Goals: Watkins 11, Marcondes 15, Mbeumo 46
Yellow cards: Dalsgaard 9
Swansea City: Mulder; Naughton (Celina 76), van der Hoorn (Cabango 46), Guehi; Roberts, Fulton (Dhanda 46), Grimes (C), Bidwell; Gallagher, Ayew, Brewster.
Subs not used: Gould, Dyer, Kalulu, Rushesha, Cullen, Garrick.
Yellow cards: Cabango 50, Dhanda 74, Ayew 83, Roberts 90+2
Goal: Brewster 78
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
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