Life, death, taxes and Ivan Toney do penalties. The Brentford striker could face a ban of up to six months for the foul, but his 22nd successive successful kick ensured Thomas Frank’s side took the bragging rights in this west London derby between two of the Premier League’s overachieving clubs. .
While Marco Silva’s side may have plenty of reason to complain about the penalty awarded by referee Anthony Taylor after Manor Solomon had canceled out Ethan Pinnock’s disallowed opener with his fifth goal in successive games, Frank will not have too much sympathy as Brentford moved to within a point of seventh-placed Fulham 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 when Toney asked the Football Association to carry out an investigation into leaked reports regarding his potential punishmentthe England striker did the talking with his feet as he took his season tally in the Premier League to 15, behind only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane.
Although not usually considered 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 in the final of the 2020 Championship play-offs. Their only previous summit in August was the first win of the season for Silva’s side as they have confounded expectations by already amassing 39 points – the most by a promoted side after 25 games in a Premier League season since Wigan Athletic 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 Europe’s top five leagues not to have lost in 2023, along with Borussia Dortmund and Reims. Frank handed Mikkel Damsgaard just his second league start, while his Fulham counterpart ultimately opted for Solomon after his goalscoring off the bench in their last four games and Sasa Lukic in place of the suspended João Palhinha in midfield.
But it was Brentford who tore into their opponents from the outset 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 Rico Henry’s cross and then being denied at Leno’s outstretched leg. Fulham failed to clear the resulting corner, although there was an element of misfortune when Aaron Hickey’s effort was blocked straight into Pinnock’s path and his snap shot diverted Tim Ream to give Leno no chance.
Mbeumo was desperately unlucky to see his curling free-kick hit the post as Brentford kept up the intensity before, to the delight of the home supporters, Taylor warned Silva about his behavior as the Fulham manager briefly vented his frustration at his side’s slow start. boil over. His mood would not have improved when Willian was yellow-carded for diving under a rare scrum forward by the visitors. Then it was Toney’s turn to hit the woodwork with another brilliant free-kick from a similar position which 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 equalizer came five minutes before half-time when Solomon reacted quicker than Mbeumo to Pereira’s free-kick as it had hit the inside of the post and headed in off guard. net. They were also lucky that Lukic didn’t receive a second yellow card when he brought down Yoane Wissa on the stroke of half-time to Frank’s clear dismay.
Perhaps that decision was at the back of Taylor’s mind when Christian Nørgaard was tackled by Issa Diop after a long throw-in in Fulham’s penalty area early in the second half. After a moment’s hesitation, the referee pointed to the spot and despite Wissa initially pretending to 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 millimeters from doubling his tally after an audacious lob just inside the Fulham half sent Leno scrambling back in desperation. Toney was also involved in Jensen’s goal which wrapped up the points five minutes after good work from substitute Kevin Schade on the right as Fulham’s traveling fans headed for the exits early on.