Manchester City returned to winning ways in the Premier League on Wednesday night by beating Brentford at the Etihad Stadium, with errors from the visitors ultimately defining the game.
Riyad Mahrez scored from the penalty spot in the first half, while Kevin De Bruyne’s side-footed finish in the final 20 minutes made sure of the result.
City completely controlled possession, limiting the Bees to fleeting counter attacks. But it was almost half an hour into the game before the champions and Premier League leaders actually did something meaningful with it and tested David Raya in the Brentford goal.
The Spaniard got down low to claw the ball away and stop Raheem Sterling from getting an easy tap-in before Joao Cancelo blazed the rebound high and wide. Soon after, an acrobatic attempt from Sterling missed the target. Aymeric Laporte also fired a good chance narrowly wide.
The first shot on target belonged to Brentford, although it was a tame header from Frank Onyeka. Rico Henry had a better chance just before half-time, with Ederson bravely diving at his feet.
The penalty came at a bad time for Brentford, only a few minutes before half-time and undoing all of the very good work they had done up to that point. Mads Roerslev was drawn into a clumsy challenge on Sterling and Mahrez made no mistake for his 16th goal of the season.
Cancelo almost doubled City’s advantage when his jinking run and low shot was matched by a good save from Raya. Unfortunately for the Brentford goalkeeper, it was his mistake that gifted City the killer second goal, passing straight to Sterling, whose shot rebounded to a grateful De Bruyne.
Going 2-0 behind seemed to knock the fight out of Brentford, while City began zipping it around far more dangerously than they had been earlier. Cancelo forced Raya into a low save before the end, with the champions able to see the game out.
Manchester City player ratings
1. Goalkeeper & defenders
Ederson (GK) - 7/10 - Took a heavy knock to his head and neck when bravely cutting out a close Brentford chance.
John Stones (RB) - 5/10 - Asked to occupy an unfamiliar role. A mis-control just before half-time almost let Brentford equalise.
Ruben Dias (CB) - 6/10 - Endured a moment of miscommunication with Ederson. Otherwise always in control.
Aymeric Laporte (CB) - 6/10 - Went close to scoring but didn't have to do a lot of direct defending.
Joao Cancelo (LB) - 8/10 - Began to make more of an impact after half-time and nearly scored after a jinking solo run. Had other chances and arguably finished the night as City's best attacker.
Bernardo Silva (CM) - 5/10 - Quieter than he's been. Passed well but it wasn't particularly incisive.
Rodri (CM) - 5/10 - Noticeably lost the ball a few times in the first half, which is very unlike him.
Kevin De Bruyne (CM) - 7/10 - Lots of passing, but his impact wasn't truly felt until he netted City's second goal with a measured finish. Great after that.
Riyad Mahrez (RW) - 6/10 - Made no mistake with his penalty, firing calmly into the top corner. Didn't do enough else in open play.
Phil Foden (CF) - 5/10 - His best contributions came when he pulled away from the front and got more involved in the build-up.
Raheem Sterling (LW) - 7/10 - Posed a threat from the beginning. Won the penalty and pounced on the error that brought about City's second.
Jack Grealish (LW) - 5/10 - Looked energetic and keen to impress but another game passes by without a tangible output.
Ilkay Gundogan (CM) - 6/10 - Slotted into midfield to help City see it out.
Brentford player ratings
5. Goalkeeper & defenders
David Raya (GK) - 5/10 - Gifted City their second goal, which was a major blot on an otherwise admirable performance.
Kristoffer Ajer (CB) - 7/10 - Did well in what were always going to be difficult circumstances for Brentford.
Pontus Jansson (CB) - 6/10 - Made his presence known aerially and was firm in the tackle on the ground as well.
Ethan Pinnock (CB) - 6/10 - More than held his own in open play.
Mads Roerslev (RWB) - 5/10 - Drawn into a clumsy challenge to give away the penalty. Had done well up to that point.
Frank Onyeka (CM) - 6/10 - Started slowly but really improved breaking forward towards the end of the first half.
Christian Norgaard (CM) - 7/10 - City weren't able to easily pick their way through midfield and he was the main reason why.
Mathias Jensen (CM) - 5/10 - Probably Brentford's most naturally creative player on the night. Faded after half-time.
Rico Henry (LWB) - 6/10 - Disappointed with himself for not making more of a chance late in the first half. Defended well.
Sergi Canos (ST) - 6/10 - Couldn't make enough of an impact because he saw so little of the ball. Pressed and chased well.
Saman Ghoddos (ST) - 6/10 - Worked hard for not very much gain but can hold his head high. Also withdrawn early.
Josh Dasilva (CM) - 5/10 - Made his Premier League debut after making his injury comeback in the FA Cup. Important minutes under his belt.
Bryan Mbeumo (ST) - 5/10 - Struggled to get into the game.
Yoane Wissa (ST) - 5/10 - City were controlling it by the time he arrived.