LONDON: Ethan Pinnock’s late goal earned Brentford a 1-0 home win over champions Manchester City on the final day of the Premier League campaign today, but it was not enough for them to secure a place in Europe next season.
Brentford needed to win and hope that Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur dropped points in order to finish seventh, a Europa Conference League qualifying spot.
Both teams, however, also won their games against Brighton & Hove Albion and Leeds United, respectively, meaning Thomas Frank’s side finished ninth.
Treble-chasing City, who clinched their third consecutive league title with three games remaining, topped the table with 89 points, four clear of Arsenal.
Brentford finished with 59 points, one behind eighth-placed Spurs.
“The team deserves a lot of praise. It sums up a fantastic season,” said Frank, adding that he was not disappointed at missing out on Europe.
“We did what we had to do … You need to look back where we’ve actually come from. To finish ninth with 59 points and the second lowest budget is incredible. Now we want to have a rest and come back as strong as possible.”
Brentford had restricted a much-changed City side to half-chances for most of the contest and found a deserved breakthrough with five minutes remaining.
Pinnock, who signed a four-year contract earlier yesterday, lashed home from close range after substitute Kevin Schade’s cross was headed into his path by Bryan Mbeumo.
Looking ahead to next month’s FA Cup and Champions League finals, City boss Pep Guardiola made seven changes from the midweek draw with Brighton, leaving striker Erling Haaland on the bench and Kevin De Bruyne out of the squad.
City lacked their usual intensity but they could have snatched a draw in stoppage-time when Cole Palmer had two efforts blocked by Pinnock and another was cleared off the line by Ben Mee.
Brentford became the only team to beat City home and away this season, and also ended their 25-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
City will face Manchester United in the FA Cup final on June 3 and Inter Milan in the Champions League final a week later.
“We have four or five players with niggles, not injured but not fit for a few days,” Guardiola said.
“The guys who didn’t play were exhausted yesterday – mentally they were drained. They needed to rest.
“Ruben (Dias) didn’t train for 10 days, (Jack) Grealish has a niggle. After Brighton, Kevin felt the same thing he felt weeks before and he could not play before. Not a big issue. I think they will be ready.
“Now we have to arrive with the right energy for United and the final of the Champions League.”