Manchester City fell to their first home defeat of the season as Ivan Toney snatched three points for Brentford with a 98th-minute winner on Saturday lunchtime.
The overlooked England international put his side ahead against the champions before Phil Foden levelled on the cusp of half-time. City were limited to frustrating efforts from range before Toney struck right at the death with the hosts caught upfield from their own set-piece.
Pep Guardiola spent much of the pre-match buildup batting away suggestions that his international-littered side would suffer a dip, subconscious or otherwise, ahead of the imminent World Cup. Instead, his hesitations resided with the 12.30 pm start time. "Early kick-off," Guardiola mused, "always a little more complicated." And so it proved.
Brentford exposed City's sluggishness twice in the opening six minutes. Frank Onyeka's burst from midfield wasn't tracked by a sky-blue shirt as David Raya went over the top of City's press with a long punt. Ederson was swiftly off his line to smother the midfielder before he was called into action moments later.
Rico Henry led a breakaway down the left, tossing a cross into the box which Bryan Mbeumo squared for Toney. Despite the surprising glut of space inside City’s penalty area, Toney rushed his sweep towards goal which Ederson pawed away.
Brazil's number two was finally beaten by the striker Gareth Southgate deemed unworthy of a World Cup slot. Raya fizzed a set piece from deep which Ben Mee nodded towards Toney. Giving Aymeric Laporte a sly nudge in the back, Toney looped a 16th-minute opener over Ederson.
The Bees were quick to drop into a 5-3-2 off the ball but were reluctant to passively sit back. Yet, the urgency and accuracy of a City side trailing pushed the visitors onto the toes of their goalkeeper.
Half an hour into an incident-ridden first half, Brentford survived a squall of penalty appeals. Henry was perhaps the most fortunate to escape the scrutiny of the video screen. Bernardo Silva scooped the ball onto the wingback's arm but VAR deemed that there was "no clear evidence" to prove the offence took place inside the penalty box.
Brentford couldn't cling onto their advantage until the half-time whistle. Kevin De Bruyne's stoppage-time corner kick bounced through to Foden, popping up for the England international to belt a brilliantly crisp half-volley into the roof of the net.
A lengthy injury delay as Laporte had a cut on his eyebrow treated punctuated a staccato start to the second half. However, City strung together a bewitching sequence dripping in fluency shortly after the hour mark. A zig-zagging burst of passes interwoven between Brentford players committed to press culminated with Ilkay Gundogan squandering a rare, unobstructed sight of goal.
The visitors were firmly on the back foot after taking the lead but intermittently reminded City of the counter-punch they possess. Another laser-like pass from Raya set Henry scampering into City's penalty area, forcing Laporte into a desperate clearance with Toney lurking on his shoulder inside the six-yard box.
With everyone tossed forward in the dying embers of an afternoon to forget, City were twice caught completely exposed on the break. Toney tucked away Josh Dasilva's square pass at the first time of asking but missed the chance to seal his hat-trick in the final of ten added minutes. Nevertheless, it proved enough for Brentford to earn their first victory over City since 1989, condemning the hosts to a second-place position this Christmas.
Man City vs Brentford player ratings - Premier League
1. Man City (4-3-3)
GK: Ederson - 8/10 - Kept City in the contest with some excellent stops from point-blank range. Forced into a raft of commanding catches.
RB: John Stones - 4/10 - Lumbered unconvincingly back towards his own goal when forced to retreat in transition.
CB: Manuel Akanji - 3/10 - Out-jumped by Mee for Brentford's opener as City conceded their third set-piece goal of the season. They only let in one last term.
CB: Aymeric Laporte - 6/10 - Much more assured when the ball was on the deck rather than challenging Brentford's aerially adept forwards.
LB: Joao Cancelo - 3/10 - Everything was forced, including a poorly executed dive which he was rightly booked for.
CM: Kevin De Bruyne - 6/10 - Romped and roamed across the turf in a characteristically all-action display but the end product was lacking.
CM: Rodri - 7/10 - Always available as City's pressure valve against Brentford's intermittent press.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan - 4/10 - Lax when tracking Brentford's forward runners from midfield and missed City's clearest chance after charging upfield himself.
RW: Bernardo Silva - 5/10 - Struggled when forced into a one-on-one with Henry but floated into space away from the wingback.
ST: Erling Haaland - 4/10 - Repeatedly charged into an invariably solid set of red and white stripes.
LW: Phil Foden - 6/10 - Took his goal superbly but wasn't overly involved otherwise.
SUB: Julian Alvarez (87' for Cancelo) - N/A
Manager: Pep Guardiola - 4/10 - Didn't make his first substitution until the 87th minute as he tweaked the positions of his starting XI but without much joy against obdurate foes.
2. Brentford (3-5-2)
GK: David Raya - 8/10 - Arguably the most penetrative passer on the pitch this afternoon, bypassing City's press with his devastatingly accurate long kicks.
CB: Mathias Jorgensen - 6/10 - No nonsense with his approach to defending his own box.
CB: Ethan Pinnock - 6/10 - Solid in a display spent mostly clearing his lines.
CB: Ben Mee - 7/10 - Adept at positioning his frame in the way of a sky blue shirt taking aim.
RWB: Mads Roerslev - 5/10 - Stood firm against the tricky challenge of Foden.
CM: Frank Onyeka - 5/10 - Started brightly but faded from the foreground.
CM: Vitaly Janelt - 6/10 - Sweeping up as the ballast in Brentford's midfield.
CM: Mathias Jensen - 5/10 - Struggled to exert a lasting impact on proceedings.
LWB: Rico Henry - 8/10 - Took a hands-on (a little too literally at times) approach to defending his opposite winger but was a constant threat spearing into the final third.
ST: Bryan Mbeumo - 6/10 - On his record-breaking 50th Premier League appearance for Brentford, Mbeumo scurried and harried around the final third selflessly.
ST: Ivan Toney - 8/10 - A menace in the air as he thrived as the link-man up against City's fretting centre-backs.
SUB: Christian Norgaard (62' for Janelt) - 5/10
SUB: Yoane Wissa (74' for Mbeumo) - N/A
SUB: Josh Dasilva (87' for Onyeka) - N/A
Manager: Thomas Frank - 7/10 - Set his side up to defend doggedly but also posed a potent threat going forward.