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Anthony Gordon on the scoresheet, but Everton denied first league win of the season

Brentford hit the woodwork three times, but they created far more chances than that. Still, they lagged behind the early goal of Everton striker Anthony Gordon. “One of those days” didn’t quite cover a lopsided match. Then the gods of natural justice pulled their strings. With four minutes to go, Mathais Jensen hurled over a corner from the right. Keane Lewis-Potter nodded and substitute Vitaly Janelt headed in from a distance. Justice indeed.

Everton manager Frank Lampard gave Belgian midfielder Amadou Onana a first Premier League start, a resurrection for Dwight McNeil and, perhaps more intriguingly, a starting spot for the wanton Gordon whose name the away supporters chanted all afternoon.

With ineligible new signing Neal Maupay training at Merseyside and Salomon Rondon struggling, Everton again had no recognized striker. McNeil was nominally the most central of a three-man assault force, but neither he, Gordon, nor Demarai Gray struck fear into the heart of Brentford’s rear, which itself had undergone changes. With Pontus Jansson’s foot injury a step too far for his appearance, Brentford head coach Thomas Frank plopped on Mathias Jorgenson as centre-back. And the home crowd mocked every touch of James Tarkowski, previously one of their own.

The visitors had most of the ball, but they were sluggish on offense and when Brentford broke with their signature enthusiasm, Everton were overrun and the chances fell, first for Bryan Mbeumo, who sent Rico Henry’s cross inches wide, Jensen a daisy spike rattled ... and Captain Jordan Pickford saved from Christian Norgaard at close range.

After making the run and creating the chances, Brentford then fell behind. Conor Coady heads a long ball forward. Gordon collected, shook off Jorgensen’s dilettante challenge in a value-enhancing fashion and shot his first goal since early April past David Raya.

What could Brentford do but create more chances? Taking advantage of Everton’s lack of defensive width again, Henry accelerated left again and crossed over to the unmarked Toney to hit .... The ball fell to the also unchaperoned Yoane Wissa who lost his head and somehow managed to blast over the open goal.

Henry continued to cause consternation after the break and soon the woodwork rattled for a third time, this time as Norgaard set himself up for a bicycle kick that crashed into the crossbar.

When Brentford knocked on a door that appeared to be firmly locked Everton began to feel that their lead could in fact be protected and when Onana’s foraging action mounted a spring-loaded attack Gordon forced Raya to puncture the tyre, but the keeper was immediately up again the leg to brilliantly thwart Vitalii Mykolenko.

The longer the game went on, the more frustrated Brentford became, and when Gordon clattered to the sidelines after a succession of hard tackles against Brentford assistant coach Brian Riemer, the game threatened to slip out of referee John Brooks’ laissez-faire control.

Everton went for a back five, Frank went for broke with a triple substitution and soon Janelt made a fine flying save from Pickford but on the other hand only dogged defense from Ben Mee prevented Gray from scoring Everton’s second after more excellent work from Onana .

And with that, Everton appeared to be heading north unscathed, points in a swag bag. Unfortunately for them, if not the balance of the match, it was not to be.

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