Brentford too hot for Derby to handle
Classy Brentford ended Derby's four-game unbeaten run and all but ended their play-off hopes in a comprehensive 4-0 rout at Griffin Park.
A brace each for Lasse Vibe and Spanish winger Jota was no more than the Bees deserved for a scintillating display of passing football that left the Rams chasing shadows.
Brentford took the lead just after the half-hour when Jota's dipping low drive was parried by Derby keeper Scott Carson, only for Vibe to slot home the rebound.
The Bees dominated but only had the one goal to show for it at the break - the final 20 minutes was a different story as Dean Smith's side ran riot.
Jota made it two on 70 minutes when he drilled home Josh Clarke's clever cut back from the byline to leave Scott Carson rooted to the spot.
Jota was instrumental in the third on 82 minutes, feeding Nico Yennaris whose clever reverse ball found Vibe on the edge of the box for the Dane to smash home inside the post for his 15th of the season.
And the Spaniard gave the scoreline an emphatic feel that the Bees fully deserved with a touch of class for the fourth, almost on the whistle.
He ran on to Konstantin Kerschbaumer's through ball and teased it past Richard Keogh with the outside of his foot before running on and drilling beneath Carson from a tight angle.
The Bees signalled their intent early on, the first chance coming after seven minutes in when Sergi Canos and Romaine Sawyers cut through the visitors defence only for the Spaniard to blaze his shot well over.
Carson had to be at his best shortly after to deny Jota with a smart save after he was given plenty of space every time he got on the ball on the Brentford flanks.
Garry Rowett's side huffed and puffed to create any clear chances, but could have taken the lead on 23 minutes. Craig Bryson's delightful flick beat the home defence and David Nugent raced on only to be denied by a brave Daniel Bentley stop.
Two minutes later and Brentford thought they had edged in front when a speculative right-wing cross was volleyed towards his own goal by Chris Baird, Carson sparing the defender's blushes with a full-length save.
Not to be outdone another defender, Bees skipper Harlee Dean tried to get on the scoresheet as he strode forward and exchanged passes with Canos but saw his snap shot deflected just wide.
Derby regrouped after a first half footballing lesson from the Londoners, and emerged brighter after the interval but their best effort fell to Johnny Russell whose drive was blocked by Bentley and hacked clear.