Brentford vs Everton. Premier League.
Gtech Community StadiumAttendance16,957.
Match report and free highlights as Ivan Toney's first-half penalty following VAR review is enough to secure Brentford their first Premier League win in six games against Everton; Rafael Benitez's side slip to fifth defeat in six matches
Monday 29 November 2021 06:24, UK
Ivan Toney's 24th-minute penalty secured Brentford a first Premier League win in six games as Everton slumped to a 1-0 defeat on Super Sunday.
Toney struck from the penalty spot to decide a contest starved of quality after Andros Townsend was penalised for a high boot on Frank Onyeka upon VAR review. It was a sweet moment for Toney, who spoke in midweek of having not been given a fair chance under Rafael Benitez when the pair were at Newcastle in 2018.
Everton fought valiantly in search of an equaliser with Salomon Rondon missing two presentable opportunities either side of half-time, but their search for a first league win since September 25 - a run of seven games - continues with second-placed Liverpool visiting Goodison Park on Wednesday.
The result moves Brentford above Everton into 12th place, with the Toffees slipping to 14th, six points above the relegation zone.
Brentford: Fernandez (6), Goode (6), Jansson (7), Pinnock (7), Canos (6), Janelt (8), Onyeka (7), Norgaard (6), Henry (7), Mbeumo (7), Toney (8).
Subs: Wissa (n/a), Baptiste (6), Roerslev (n/a).
Everton: Pickford (6), Coleman (5), Godfrey (6), Keane (6), Digne (6), Gordon (6), Doucoure (6), Allan (6), Iwobi (6), Townsend (5), Rondon (5).
Subs: Gray (7).
Man of the match: Ivan Toney.
Brentford had lost three of their previous four league meetings with Everton, with this their first such game since a 6-1 away loss in the second tier in February 1954, but neither side arrived into this encounter with any confidence.
It showed during a low-key opening 20 minutes but that changed midway through the opening period when Onyeka was quickest to react to Jordan Pickford's punch from a corner to be caught by Townsend's high boot inside the box.
Roy Keane told Sky Sports: "I think it was the right decision, dangerous play. If you look at Andros' face, he knows straight away they're going to check it. It's an attacking player's tackle, and if you raise your foot in the box - it's a penalty."
Referee Darren England initially waved play on but upon consultation from VAR Jon Moss, a spot-kick was awarded and Toney kept his composure to send Pickford the wrong way.
This was the first meeting between Brentford and Everton in any competition since September 2010, in a League Cup match. Following a 1-1 draw at Griffin Park, the Bees progressed 4-3 on penalties that evening, but the visitors very nearly found an instant response when Rondon collected Lucas Digne's low cross to draw a smart save from Alvaro Fernandez.
Everton had won five of their previous six Premier League games in London, as many as they had in their 32 visits to the capital in the competition prior to that, however they came close to falling further behind when Ethan Pinnock rose to meet Sergi Canos' corner but his header was straight at Pickford.
Everton's intricate build-up play lacked punch, and they were nearly punished on the break with five minutes of the opening period remaining when Toney's cross was inadvertently headed into the path of Bryan Mbeumo by Digne but Pickford read his intentions to make a simple save down to his left.
Digne's wild free-kick from a good position summed up Everton's half, sparking a mass exodus from the away end in search of warmth, but they had a penalty appeal turned down when Charlie Goode appeared to have a chunk of Rondon's shirt moments before the break.
Brentford made two changes for the visit of Everton in an attempt to end their five-match winless run in the Premier League.
Charlie Goode and Frank Onyeka were recalled to the starting XI, with Mads Roerslev and Saman Ghoddos named as substitutes following starts in the 3-3 draw at Newcastle last weekend.
Everton were boosted by the return of Abdoulaye Doucoure, who has missed the last month with a broken metatarsal, while Alex Iwobi and Salomon Rondon were also handed opportunities from the off.
Fabian Delph dropped to the bench along with Demarai Gray, although the attacker has at least recovered from the muscle injury which forced him off at Manchester City, while Richarlison served a one-match suspension for receiving his fifth yellow card of the season during Sunday's 3-0 defeat.
Everton finally exerted some pressure 10 minutes after the restart as Rondon's shot from the edge of the box was blocked by a throng of Brentford bodies in the area. Moments later, Abdoulaye Doucoure skied Seamus Coleman's cross but the ball fell kindly for Alex Iwobi to test Fernandez low to his right.
Midway through the second period, Pontus Jansson clashed with Digne as the Bees' captain expressed his anger when Everton refused to kick the ball out of play with Rico Henry down injured. It resulted in Rondon and Jansson both seeing yellow with Benitez soon turning to Demarai Gray as the Spaniard's desperation heightened.
Gray brought greater urgency as his devilish cross evaded Anthony Gordon at the far post moments after a snapshot was blocked by Pinnock, while Rondon's header from a Coleman cross was planted a yard wide. Everton continued to probe but Brentford stood firm to register a first clean sheet in eight Premier League games.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank: "We're very pleased with the result. It's a massive win, a big, big, big win. We played really well in the first half and deserved to be in front. In the second half, Everton were more on the ball without hurting us.
"We have to put things into perspective. We've just got promoted while Everton have invested a lot of money and are targeting European football. We got back to a strong defensive mindset. In the last three games, we've conceded too many chances and goals but we wanted to still be aggressive and press high. I thought our defence was unbreakable today.
"It's a massive win because we haven't won in five and deserved more in those games. To get the win and to defend at a top level, I'm delighted. It was so important we did that and hopefully this is a win we can now build on. Alvaro (Fernandez) made two very big saves and this is his first Premier League clean sheet so it's fantastic for him.
"Earlier in the week, I said Ivan (Toney) was the world's best penalty-taker and he proved it again today and so the good thing that I like about Ivan is that you need to be a strong and composed personality in these situations. You have to like the pressure, and to maintain the level you have to practise. He does this every single day and that's why he's so good."
Everton boss Rafael Benitez: "I think we had a lot of crosses, 14 shots away [from home] so the team was pushing and pushing. We were trying to create but it was not easy because there was a lot of bodies in there.
"We were fine. We gave them some hope in the first half but in the second half we wanted to push. The team were doing exactly what they had to do - push, push. The quality of the final pass and the movements makes the difference against a team with lots of players behind the ball.
"We can understand the frustration of the fans as we're also frustrated but you cannot complain about the effort of the players, who tried from the start of the game and put in many crosses. We're obviously disappointed as we don't want to lose.
"We've been missing key players so we didn't expect this bad run. We didn't deserve to lose and the reality is that the team is giving everything on the pitch. You can see the togetherness of the players. If we continue to work in this way, hopefully we can be more precise with our shots in the end.
"You could see what we're capable of doing from the beginning of the season and once the players are back fit, I'm sure we can do it again.
"The connection between the fans and the players last season wasn't great, but you could see it was better at the start of the season. To bring back this connection the fans expect the players to give everything and they can't complain today as the players gave everything. I can't blame any players. I can't point fingers.
"Every game is important for us. Obviously the next one is more important because it is the derby. We must learn from the mistakes we are making.
"When you lose games it is not easy. It is football, sometimes like today you have chances and you push but it is not enough. The only thing is to keep attacking and try not to make these mistakes in defence."
Speaking ahead of his reunion, Toney said it was a "blessing in disguise" that Benitez did not give him a chance to shine at Newcastle. The Spaniard was in charge of Newcastle in 2018 when the club sold Toney to Peterborough.
Since then, the striker has rebuilt his career and he scored a record number of goals in the Championship last season as the Bees won promotion.
Here, he haunted the beleaguered Everton boss with a trademark penalty - backing up Thomas Frank's claim he is the "best spot-kick taker in the world" - but it was his defensive work as much as anything else which made him the game's outstanding player.
Toney made four clearances, more than any other team-mate, while only Charlie Goode (9) and Christian Norgaard (13) regained possession on more occasions than him (8).
All eight of Brentford's home goals in this season's Premier League have been scored by a different player, with Toney scoring his first home goal in the competition in his ninth such appearance for both the Bees and former club Newcastle United combined.
Since the start of last season, Toney has scored more penalties in league games (excluding play-offs) than any other player in the top four tiers of English football (11), doing so without missing any of those penalties.
Sky Sports' Ben Grounds at the Brentford Community Stadium:
"Everton arrived in west London with their troubles at defending set-pieces well documented in light of Brentford's prowess from corners and throw-ins, but, in conceding the penalty which decided a contest low on quality, the visitors' sense of panic contributed heavily to their latest demise.
"Andros Townsend has been one of Everton's most consistent performers this term, but his challenge on Frank Onyeka was never likely to go by unpunished even if referee Darren England initially waved play on. It was a panicked decision borne out of an awareness of his own team's fragility.
"Ironically, it was Jon Moss stationed as VAR when Everton were recently on the wrong end of a penalty decision in the stalemate against Tottenham, a game in which Mason Holgate also had a yellow card upgraded to a red.
"But Benitez could hardly blame the match officials here as his side's second-half resurgence ultimately fell short. As Hey Jude greeted the sound of the final whistle, the Everton players were met by a barrage of abuse from the away end. Benitez must take a poor team and make it better.
"There was no lack of endeavour, but a worrying absence of quality. Until the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yerry Mina and Richarlison are back available, Everton look set to remain on this downward spiral."
Brentford go to Spurs on Thursday in the Premier League at 7.30pm, while Everton host Merseyside rivals Liverpool at 8.15pm on Wednesday. Free highlights from both games will be available on the Sky Sports website, App and YouTube channel.