Sergi Canós’s superb second-half hat-trick allowed Brentford to extend their unbeaten run in the Championship to 14 matches as they came from behind to beat Cardiff 3-2 in the Welsh capital. The Spaniard made it a great Christmas week for the Bees as he hauled his side back from a remarkable Will Vaulks goal at the end of a lacklustre first half to earn the visitors all three points.
Hot on the heels of their 1-0 Carabao Cup triumph over Newcastle earlier in the week to set up the club’s first major cup semi-final, against Tottenham in the new year, the Canós-inspired comeback moved Brentford to within a point of the second automatic promotion spot in fourth.
A cagey opening was followed by an even more frustrating contest in which there were only four shots in the first 45 minutes and neither keeper had to make a save. There were flimsy penalty shouts from either side around the half-hour mark, but the referee, Dean Whitestone, waved play on in both incidents.
It looked as though it was going to remain deadlocked up to the end of the half but in the fourth minute of added time Vaulks lifted the game out of the mundane with an extraordinary goal. Having picked up a loose ball just outside his own penalty area the Wales international took a touch and then played a pass forward to Rob Glatzel.
With his back to goal, the German striker laid off the ball to his left to Vaulks, who spotted David Raya about 20 yards out of his goal. Having looked up, he then put his head down and fired the ball from six yards inside his own half over the head of the stranded Brentford goalkeeper.
League One roundup
Lincoln City moved to the top of the table with a thumping 5-1 win over last-place Burton Albion. The Imps rushed into a two-goal lead within seven minutes through Remy Howarth and Brennan Johnson. Anthony Scully added a third after the break, before Johnson doubled his tally. Kane Hemmings pulled one back but Harry Anderson soon restored the four-goal lead to complete the win.
Wigan sit one place and three points above Burton after they earned a draw against Shrewsbury. Will Keane gave the Latics the lead from the penalty spot, only for Shaun Whalley to equalise for the visitors at the DW Stadium. Wes Burns’ opener for Fleetwood was cancelled out by Crewe’s Mikael Mandron just after the hour mark as the points were shared at Gresty Road.
Luke Jephcott netted twice for Plymouth at Charlton but it was not enough for victory, as Chris Gunter and Marcus Maddison pulled the Addicks levelled. Ben Gladwin smashed a screamer into the top corner in added time in the first half to set MK Dons up for a 2-0 victory over Bristol Rovers, with Scott Fraser securing the result. Things were all but over by the 22nd minute at the Kassam Stadium as Jordan Obita and then Matty Taylor got the better of AFC Wimbledon goalkeeper Connal Trueman in Oxford United’s 2-0 triumph.
The teams who now occupy second to fifth: Portsmouth, Hull, Doncaster and Peterborough all saw their games postponed for reasons related to Covid-19, as six matches were called off.
Brentford started the second half with a bang and after winning successive corners they managed to get back on level terms with another great bit of skill, this time from Canós. The Spaniard got two bites of the cherry from his position just outside the home penalty area, deftly hooking his 22-yard volley over the head of Alex Smithies in the centre of the Cardiff goal.
Canós then showed off his running skills in the 65th minute as he cut inside two Cardiff defenders before firing home a low shot inside the left-hand post to give his side the lead for the first time. Canós completed a 23-minute hat-trick not long afterwards to give Brentford a two-goal cushion at 3-1.
League Two roundup
Bolton recovered from going three goals down to draw 3-3 at third-placed Carlisle. Aaron Hayden and Lewis Alessandra scored before seven minutes had passed, and when Omari Patrick added a third the points looked in the bag. Bolton, however, had other ideas as George Thomason reduced the deficit just before the break. The score stayed the same until the 86th minute when Nathan Delfouneso pulled another back, before Peter Kioso, who was later sent off, levelled things.
Neither of the sides above Carlisle could take advantage as leaders Newport were held by Crawley, while Forest Green Rovers could only take a point off Exeter. Southend secured just their fourth win of the season to move off the bottom as they defeated Essex rivals Colchester 2-0. The result leaves Stevenage at the foot of the table, despite them earning a 1-1 draw at Cheltenham.
Scott Quigley and Patrick Brough goals saw Barrow down Port Vale in an impressive 2-0 away win. Salford City won by the same scoreline as James Wilson and Luke Burgess saw off Walsall. A strike from veteran Wes Hoolahan and Paul Mullin’s 19th of the season helped Cambridge United bounce back from Danny Johnson’s opener to defeat Leyton Orient, while Lee Novak’s goal settled Bradford’s trip to Tranmere in the Yorkshire side’s favour.
Mansfield held on for a 3-2 victory at Scunthorpe, while Morecambe beat managerless Grimsby 3-1. Harrogate took advantage of Bobby Grant’s dismissal to down Oldham 2-1 thanks to two George Thomson goals.
Vaulks gave the home side some hope moments later with his second goal of the game after Sean Morrison had headed down a corner for him to volley past Raya with a little bit of assistance from the chest of Ivan Toney, but Brentford were able to hold on for the win. They host Bournemouth on Wednesday, a day after Cardiff visit Wycombe.