LONDON (Reuters) – Brentford striker Ivan Toney scored with a deft backheel finish in the first half and added a penalty in the second to give his side a 2-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion in their Friday night Premier League clash at the Gtech Community Stadium.
The 26-year-old gave his hopes of being included in England’s World Cup squad a considerable boost with a superb all-round display, capped off by two goals that took his tally to 55 in 100 games in all competitions for Brentford.
The Brighton players warmed up in t-shirts dedicated to Zambian team mate Enock Mwepu, whose career came to an abrupt end this week after he was diagnosed with a hereditary heart condition.
The visitors came close to taking the lead through Moises Caicedo in the 20th minute but goalkeeper David Raya tipped his 20th-minute piledriver over the bar, and he made another smart save from Joel Veltman from the resulting corner.
Bryan Mbeumo then hit the crossbar with a volley for Brentford just before Toney opened the scoring with a strike that might have been less spectacular, but still oozed class.
The home side broke forward and Frank Onyeka pulled the ball across the box for Toney to flick thorough the legs of defender Adam Webster and into the net with an audacious backheel.
With the visitors struggling to deal with Brentford at set pieces, Toney won a penalty in the 62nd minute as defender Joel Veltman bundled him over in the box, and the Englishman stepped up to confidently stroke home the spot kick to make it 2-0.
Brighton enjoyed plenty of possession in the closing stages but couldn’t get the ball past Raya as the home side held on for a win the lifts them to eighth in the standings on 13 points, one behind seventh-placed Brighton.
(Reporting by Philip O’ConnorEditing by Christian Radnedge)