Leicester held off a spirited second-half effort from Championship promotion chasers Brentford to reach the FA Cup fourth round in the final tie to be held at Griffin Park.
Kelechi Iheanacho scored the only goal of the game after just four minutes when he tapped in a cross from full-back James Justin, who had been found by Dennis Praet’s superb raking pass.
Leicester was the better team in the first half and Ayoze Perez should have doubled their lead when he was sent clear by Iheanacho but Bees keeper Luke Daniels made a good save to deny him.
However, the hosts came out for the second half with a renewed vigour to their play, and they were unlucky not to equalise on the hour mark when Emiliano Marcondes’ cross beat everyone and hit the post.
Foxes keeper Danny Ward was also forced into a fine save to keep out Luka Racic’s volley late on before second-half substitute Bryan Mbeumo saw a goal ruled out for offside.
The youthful Bees pressed for an equaliser right up until the final whistle but the Premier League side held firm to book their place in the next round of the FA Cup.
There were emotional scenes at the full-time whistle for the home fans at the end of Griffin Park’s final cup tie, with the Bees set to move to the newly built Brentford Community Stadium before the 2020-21 campaign.
The fifth-round draw is live on BBC One during The One Show on Monday 27 January, at around 19:20 GMT.
With big games on the horizon for both teams, the rotation was expected for Saturday’s FA Cup tie and neither manager disappointed, with both naming nine changes to their teams.
However, while Leicester’s line-up would not have looked out of place in the Premier League, six of Brentford’s XI were aged 20 or younger and they were without their usual attacking trio of Ollie Watkins, Bryan Mbeumo and Said Benrahma, who have scored 34 of the Bees’ 44 league goals between them this season.
And the Bees inexperience showed as started slowly in front of an expectant, sold-out Griffin Park.
They almost fell behind inside the first minute when Perez rounded the Bees keeper before being brilliantly tackled by Luka Racic – but Iheanacho opened the scoring shortly after.
The hosts soon found their feet, with Marcondes and Dominic Thompson going close in the first half, and they really opened up after the half-time break with complacency creeping into Leicester’s game.
Racic drew a fine save from Ward before substitute Mbeumo, who has scored 11 Championship goals this season, showed what his team were missing when he fired home with five minutes left – only to be called offside.
Some Brentford fans vented their frustrations at head coach Thomas Frank’s selection before the game but the players on the show did their club proud, while the men who missed out will undoubtedly feature in Tuesday’s huge league match against fellow promotion chasers Nottingham Forest.
For Leicester, though, it was a case of getting the job done for Rodgers’ second-string side and that is exactly what they did – negotiating a tricky cup tie while resting a number of key players before their EFL Cup semi-final second leg on Tuesday.
Back in 1949, a stadium record 38,678 fans piled into Griffin Park as Brentford hosted Leicester in the FA Cup, so it was perhaps fitting that the Foxes were the final club to visit for an FA Cup tie.
And while only 12,221 squeezed into the west London stadium for Saturday’s match, it was still a big occasion for the Bees faithful, who will be dreaming of hosting Leicester in a Premier League game at the Brentford Community Stadium next season.
While the Bees’ new home is less than a mile down the road, football fans across the country will undoubtedly be sad to see Griffin Park go – for it is only football ground in England with a pub on every corner.
However, travelling fans will not go thirsty at the Brentford Community Stadium, as it reportedly hosts 17 bars.
Source – BBC