AN EXQUISITE 76th-minute strike from Mirco Antenucci rescued a point for Leeds United, who were forced to settle for a point against an impressive Brentford outfit.
The Italian struck a fine curler in front of the Kop to maintain United’s unbeaten start to the league campaign.
It was an afternoon when Leeds were not at their fluent best with Uwe Rosler’s side having to dig to chisel out a point against opponents, who posed considerable problems on the counter-attacl.
Brentford took the lead just before the half-hour from debutant Marco Djuricin, with the deadline-day arrival from Red Bull Salzberg also spurning a big chance to double the Bees tally in the second half, when he hit the post.
United punished that miss, courtesy of a third goal of the season from Antenucci, whose quality effort was akin to his majestic late strike on the opening day of the season against Burnley.
In the first half, Leeds toiled and struggled for rhythm in a subdued first half with the Bees taking a deserved advantage in at the break against subdued hosts, thanks to a 29th-minute strike from Djuricin.
The strker finished coolly after being set up expertly by the impressive Alan Judge following a quality counter-attack from the visitors, who dominated much of the first half in terms of possession.
United - whose head coach Rosler named an unchanged line-up following the win at Derby County on August 29, with there being no place in the matchday squad for newcomer Jordan Botaka - were handed an early scare when Gaetano Berardi was forced to clear almost on the goalline following Konstantin Kerschbaumber’s low shot which arrived following excellent approach play from Lasse Vibe and Djuricin.
United’s best moment came on five minutes when Charlie Taylor’s long-ranger was parried, not exactly convincingly by David Button, but there was not too much else to get enthused by.
Alert defending from Liam Cooper denied Djuricin after a mistake from Sol Bamba with the Bees posing problems on the counter after easing into the game and finding their feet.
Judge then fired a shot wide after cutting inside Berardi before figuring in the visitors opener, neatly finished by Djuricin just before the hour mark
Brentford knocked the ball around nicely for the reminder of the half, with the interval whistle yielding one or two boos from home supporters.
Rosler made an interval change, with Antenucci entering the fray for Alex Mowatt, in what represented a far from surprising development, with something needed to pep up proceedings after a disappointing first 45 minutes.
But the early signs on the restart were not encouraging with the Londoners going close to a second when skipper Jake Bidwell latched onto Judge’s cross at the far post, with his header flashing across the face of goal with no visiting player managing to touch the ball over the line.
Some rare enterprise at the other end saw ex-Brentford winger Stuart Dallas skip past a couple of challenges on the left before delivering a dangerous cross which was gathered by the underemployed Button under pressure from Antenucci.
Leeds made a second change on 57 minutes with the creative talents of Luke Murphy called for, with Tom Adeyemi being the man to make way.
A half-shout for a penalty then fell on deaf ears, with Leeds fans appealing for a tug on the shirt of Wood before neat play from Lewis Cook supplied Sam Byram, who fired over.
United were at least making the Brentford rearguard work on the restart, with Antenucci also afforded a clear sight of goal following Dallas’ pullback, but the ball was cleared.
Play soon switched to the other end, with the Bees going perilously close to a killer second.
A wretched clearance from Marco Silvestri was seized upon by Vibe, who fed Djuricin, whose point-blank effort hit the post, with home fans heaving a sigh of relief.
Dangerman Judge then fired over before Leeds were afforded their most threatening moment of the game which almost brought about a leveller.
A combination of the post and Button somehow kept out Chris Wood’s deflected effort, which came off Harlee Dean.
Leeds were at least showing more signs of intent, but all the time, the Bees possessed a semblance of threat on the counter.
Vibe saw a rising effort fly into the South Stand, before Murphy dragged a low shot wide at the other end.
But Murphy’s fellow sub Antenucci showed him the way to goal with a quality leveller with 14 minutes left.
Substitute Ryan Woods was dispossessed, with Brentford caught cold with Wood supplying the onrushing Antenucci, who cut inside before firing home a delightful curler in front of the Kop.
It was a quality moment not in keeping with Leeds’ display, but suddenly Brentford found themselves on the ropes a little after having most of their own way for the majority of the game.
That said, Brentford had a chance to nick back in front with sub Phillip Hofmann bundling wide from close range after James Tarkowski headed Judge’s corner towards goal, but for the remainder of the game, all the pressure came from Leeds.
Byram was off target with a half-volley from distance, with the United faithful’s cries of Attack, Attack, Attack resonating with those in white jerseys on the pitch.
Leeds pressed, with the Kop attempting to suck in a home goal, with Charlie Taylor seeing a header held by Button as the game moved into stoppage-time.
Murphy then fired a curler over the top with Leeds’ final chance arriving at the feet of Antenucci, sent clear for a split second, but Button got his angles right to gather his shot.
Play swung to the other end, with Judge firing wide on a day when both sides were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
Leeds United: Silvestri; Berardi, Cooper, Bamba, Taylor; Adeyemi (Murphy 57), Cook; Byram, Mowatt (Antenucci 45), Dallas; Wood. Substitutes unused: Turnbull, Wootton, Bellusci, Phillips, Doukara.
Brentford: Button; Colin (Woods 74), Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell; Diagouraga, McCormack; Vibe, Kerschbaumer, Judge; Djuricin (Hoffman 63 (Canos 84). Substitutes unused: Bonham, O’Connell, Barbet, Udumaga.
Referee: N Miller (Co.Durham).
Leeds: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Cook, Adeyemi, Mowatt, Byram, Wood, Dallas. Subs: Wootton, Bellusci, Antenucci, Murphy, Doukara, Turnbull, Phillips.
Brentford: Button, Colin, Tarkowski, Dean, Bidwell, Kerschbaumer, McCormack, Diagouraga, Vibe, Djuricin, Judge. Subs: Hofmann, Woods, Bonham, O’Connell, Barbet, Udumaga, Canos.
Referee: Nigel Miller (Durham)
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