Ivan Toney spot on as Brentford sink Fulham in deserved derby victory | Premier League
Life, death, taxes and Ivan Toney scoring penalties. The Brentford striker may be facing a ban of up to six months for allegedly breaking betting rules but his 22nd successful spot kick in a row ensured Thomas Frank’s side took the bragging rights in this west London derby between two of the Premier League’s over-performing clubs.
While Marco Silva’s side could have major cause to complain about the penalty being awarded by the referee Anthony Taylor after Manor Solomon had cancelled out Ethan Pinnock’s deflected opening goal with his fifth goal in successive matches, Frank will not have too much sympathy as Brentford moved to within a point of Fulham in seventh having played two games less after Mathias Jensen added a late third before Carlos Vinícius netted for the visitors deep into injury time. But after a week that saw Toney ask the Football Association to carry out an investigation into leaked reports regarding his potential punishment, the England striker did his talking with his feet as he took his season’s tally in the Premier League to 15, behind only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane.
While not usually recognised as one of London’s most hostile derbies, there has been a growing rivalry between the two clubs separated by six miles ever since Fulham triumphed after extra-time at the Championship playoff final in 2020. Their only previous top-flight meeting back in August was the first victory of the season for Silva’s side as they have confounded expectations by already racking up 39 points – the highest by a promoted team after 25 matches of a Premier League season since Wigan Athletic in 2005-06.
Brentford’s incredible unbeaten run began at the end of October and they came into this match as one of only three teams in the top five European leagues not to have lost in 2023, along with Borussia Dortmund and Reims. Frank handed Mikkel Damsgaard only his second league start, while his Fulham counterpart finally selected Solomon after his goalscoring heroics off the bench in their last four matches and Sasa Lukic in place of the suspended João Palhinha in midfield.
But it was Brentford who ripped into their opponents from the very start as Toney tested Bernd Leno after Andreas Pereira gave away possession cheaply before Bryan Mbeumo should have done better with two golden chances, somehow missing the target from from Rico Henry’s cross and then being denied by Leno’s outstretched legs. Fulham failed to clear the resulting corner, although there was an element of misfortune when Aaron Hickey’s effort was blocked straight into the path of Pinnock and his snapshot deflected off Tim Ream to give Leno no chance.
Mbeumo was desperately unlucky to see his curling free-kick shave the post as Brentford kept up the intensity before, to the delight of the home supporters, Taylor warned Silva about his behaviour as the Fulham manager briefly allowed his frustration at his side’s slow start to boil over. His mood would not have improved when Willian was shown a yellow card for diving during a rare foray forward by the visitors. Then it was Toney’s turn to strike the woodwork with another brilliant free-kick from a similar position that a relieved Leno was extremely grateful to see bounce away to safety.
But Fulham have made a habit of finding a way back into games this season and their equaliser came five minutes before half-time when Solomon reacted quicker than Mbeumo to Pereira’s free-kick when it had struck the inside of the post and headed into the unguarded net. They were also fortunate that Lukic was not shown a second yellow card when he brought down Yoane Wissa on the stroke of half-time to the clear dismay of Frank.
Perhaps that decision was in the back of Taylor’s mind when Christian Nørgaard was caught by Issa Diop following a long throw into the Fulham penalty area at the start of the second half. After a moment’s hesitation, the referee pointed to the spot and despite Wissa initially pretending he would take it, Toney stepped up to maintain his perfect penalty record since joining Brentford in August 2020.
The 26-year-old came a matter of millimetres away from doubling his tally following an audacious lob from just inside the Fulham half that had Leno scrambling back in desperation. Toney was also involved in Jensen’s goal that wrapped up the points five minutes from time after good work from substitute Kevin Schade down the right as Fulham’s travelling fans headed for the exits early.