Late goals from Alex Moreno and Ollie Watkins secured a dramatic late victory for Aston Villa at Brentford after Bees defender Ben Mee had been sent off 20 minutes from time.
Keane Lewis-Potter had opened the scoring for the hosts at Gtech Community Stadium but the game turned on its head after Mee was dismissed for flying into Leon Bailey in the 71st minute – referee David Coote upgrading to a red card after seeing the incident on the pitchside monitor.
Moreno equalised in the 77th minute with Watkins completing the turnaround eight minutes later, before Villa midfielder Boubacar Kamara was also shown a red card deep into stoppage time for violent conduct.
The victory kept Unai Emery’s high-flying side within a point of Arsenal at the top of the Premier League.
Villa impressed in the early stages, Spanish full-back Moreno using his quick feet to test Mark Flekken before he sending another effort over the bar soon after.
The Bees failed to convert a golden opportunity of their own after eight minutes. Makeshift left-back Vitaly Janelt delivered a perfect cross to Mikkel Damsgaard, who had a free shot on goal, but the Dane’s effort fell kindly for Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez.
The visitors were in the ascendancy and enjoyed dangerous counter-attacks through Jacob Ramsey and the pacy Watkins.
Ramsey fluffed the chance of the match so far in the 27th minute when Watkins nodded Ramsey through on goal, the midfielder scuffing his shot wide.
Brentford almost made Villa pay for their missed opportunities in the 39th minute when a first-time ball in behind Matty Cash unleashed Damsgaard who drove forward and produced a great cross, but striker Yoane Wissa was unable to tap home.
The hosts’ persistence was rewarded just before the interval, however. Saman Ghoddos whipped in a dangerous corner, with the alert Lewis-Potter eventually managing to strike the loose ball home.
Wissa’s effort was ruled out for offside shortly after the restart and Ramsey’s spectacular solo effort attempt was saved by the acrobatic Flekken.
Christian Norgaard was lucky to stay on the pitch early in the second half, yellow-carded for a studs-up challenge on John McGinn which avoided further sanction from VAR.
Thomas Frank’s men should have doubled their advantage in the 64th minute when, from a short corner, Damsgaard’s first-time cross caught Villa flat-footed, but Wissa’s header was kept out by Martinez.
The game swung in Villa’s favour when Mee launched himself into Bailey, connecting with the winger’s ankle rather than the ball.
Referee Coote initially showed the centre-back a yellow card but, after being sent to the pitchside monitor, overturned the decision and produced a straight red card for serious foul play.
Villa soon capitalised on the extra man, the tricky Bailey cutting in on his favoured left foot and floating a dangerous curled cross onto the head of Moreno at the back post.
And eight minutes later the visitors were ahead, Ramsey’s corner getting a fortunate flick-on and former Brentford striker Watkins heading home before celebrating in front of his old fans.
The celebration caused an on-pitch stir, with the referee brandishing yellow cards to Ezri Konsa and Ghoddos before Kamara was dismissed following a scuffle with Yehor Yarmoliuk.
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