Said Benrahma scored one of the goals of the season as Brentford kept up their push for automatic promotion with victory at Derby County, which dented the Rams’ Championship play-off chances.
The Bees have now won seven games in a row, including all six since the league resumed on 20 June, and are two points behind second-placed West Brom, who visit Blackburn later on Saturday.
Ollie Watkins tapped in his 24th league goal of the season to give Brentford an early lead after Bryan Mbeumo’s shot hit the post at the end of a magnificent team move.
Derby’s teenage midfielder Jason Knight ran onto Wayne Rooney’s pass to power in an equaliser, but Brentford were back in front straight after the break when Benrahma’s shot squirmed through the hands of Rams goalkeeper Ben Hamer.
Forward Benrahma made it 3-1 with a stunning 20-yard curler into the top corner, which this time gave Hamer no chance, for his sixth goal in three matches.
Derby were outshone for long periods and struggled to get back in the game after Benrahma’s brilliance, and will find themselves five points outside the play-offs if Swansea beat Leeds on Sunday.
Bees to end long wait?
Brentford have not been in the top flight of English football since 1947, but victory in their final three matches of the season could be enough to take them up.
Thomas Frank’s side host Preston on Wednesday, visit Stoke next Saturday and finish the campaign with a home fixture against bottom side Barnsley on 22 July.
And with their front three of Mbeumo, Watkins and Benrahma in such fine form, it appears few defences will be able to stop the highest scoring team in the Championship.
Brentford’s frontline have now scored 56 of their 78 league goals, while Algeria international Benrahma has netted 14 times in 2020 alone.
However, the Bees are also hard to break down, conceding just twice in the seven-game winning run which began with a 5-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday before the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the season.
More frustration for Derby
While the Rams are not yet out of the play-off picture, taking just one point from three matches, with a tricky run-in to come, could result in another frustrating season.
Defeat at sixth-placed Cardiff on Tuesday would all but end their hopes of making the top six, before they conclude the campaign with a home game against leaders Leeds and a trip to Birmingham.
Derby have made the play-offs in three of the past six seasons and finished no lower than ninth since 2012-13 but many would have expected them to have returned to the Premier League by now after their infamous relegation in 2007-08 with only 11 points.
Had it not been for Hamer’s error when he spilled the ball into the net to give Brentford back the lead, it could have been a different story for Phillip Cocu’s side.
They will now be hoping results elsewhere go their way on Saturday and Sunday to keep them in the promotion hunt.