Liverpool blew the chance to close the gap on the top four as Brentford claimed a deserved 3-1 victory at the Gtech Community Stadium.
The Bees were missing top scorer Ivan Toney through injury but it did little to undermine their game-plan as Thomas Frank’s side held on to take all three points.
Darwin Nunez had an early opportunity cleared off the line for the visitors before Ibrahima Konate was unfortunate to see a right-wing corner divert off his knee and into his own net on 19 minutes.
The home team continued to look the more likely and had two further efforts from set pieces chalked off by VAR before Yoane Wissa headed beyond Alisson three minutes prior to the break.
Jurgen Klopp responded by making a trio of half-time changes – including the departure of captain Virgil van Dijk – and the Reds boss got an almost immediate response.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain marked his 100th league appearance for the club by nodding in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s lovely cross on 50 minutes.
Liverpool were much-improved and dominated for long spells throughout the second period but could not muster an equaliser, leaving Bryan Mbeumo to rub salt in their wounds by firing in a clincher six minutes from time.
The result means Liverpool stay sixth and remain four points behind fourth-placed Manchester United having played a game more.
Brentford move up to seventh and are now just two points behind the Merseysiders.
Next up, Liverpool host Wolves in the FA Cup on Saturday while Brentford are at home to West Ham.
The Bees are buzzing as Liverpool kick off the new year with a whimper. It was a grim night for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. They never looked like making it five league wins in a row as they began 2023 on a sour note. Indeed, the Reds have now dropped more points than in the whole of the 21-22 campaign and on this evidence face a huge fight to qualify for the Champions League again next term.
In contrast, Brentford have made a habit of upsetting the top-flight’s hierarchy over the past year or so and they were great value for this victory, despite missing the talismanic Toney through injury.
The Bees made it six PL matches unbeaten to equal their top division record set way back in 1939. Frank’s side may well come up short when it comes to the dream of Europe, but there’s no doubt they have established themselves firmly as a PL side who can mix it with anyone on their day.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Yoane Wissa (Brentford). Came in for Toney and caused plenty of problems along with Mbeumo. Took his goal well and would have had more if it weren’t for VAR.
BRENTFORD: Raya 8, Jorgensen 7, Pinnock 7, Mee 7, Roerslev 7, Janelt 7, Norgaard 7, Jensen 7, Henry 7, Wissa 8, Mbeumo 8. Subs: Dasilva 6, Lewis-Potter 6,Canos n/a, Ghoddos n/a, Sorensen n/a.
LIVERPOOL: Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 7, Konate 6, Van Dijk 6, Tsimikas 5, Elliott 5, Fabinho 6, Thiago 6, Salah 6, Nunez 6, Oxlade-Chamberlain 7. Subs: Matip 7, Keita 7, Robertson 7, Jones n/a.
08’ – LIVERPOOL CHANCE! Salah feeds Nunez with a delightful touch and pass, but the Uruguayan can’t beat Mee on the line after dancing beyond Raya.
19’ – GOAL! – Brentford 1-0 Liverpool. A right-wing corner hits an unsighted Konate on the knee and flies in at the near post.
42’ – GOAL! – Brentford 2-0 Liverpool. Wissa powers a downward header beyond Alisson from a right-wing cross, despite the best efforts of the visiting keeper to claw it out.
50’ – GOAL! – Brentford 2-1 Liverpool. Oxlade-Chamberlain flicks a header beyond Raya from Alexander-Arnold’s delightful left-footed cross.
84’ – GOAL! – Brentford 3-1 Liverpool. Mbeumo races after a long diagonal ball and shows great composure to fire past Alisson after Konate made a mess looking to clear his lines.