Ivan Toney celebrated his 100th game for Brentford with a brace to secure all three points for the Bees at home to Brighton & Hove Albion.
The striker netted either side of the break, his first an impudent flick and his second a trademark penalty, to secure a third home win in five for Thomas Frank’s side.
It was a milestone night for the head coach, too. The Dane became only the fifth man in Club history to take charge of 200 games, reaching that mark with more wins than any of those to get there before him.
Ahead of the match, both sides paid tribute to Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Enock Mwepu who was forced to retire earlier this week, at the age of 24, due to a hereditary heart condition.
When the game got underway, roared on by the home faithful, the Bees came out of the traps flying.
Frank Onyeka, on his first Premier League start of the season, was everywhere, hassling Brighton and preventing them from getting anything going in an attacking sense. His industry allowed Mathias Jensen, in particular, time to get his foot on the ball and dictate play in the middle.
Brentford were seeing the lion’s share of the early ball, making Brighton’s time in possession in the opening stages even more important. However, the Seagulls were wasteful, struggling to play out under a fierce, high, Brentford press and allowing the Bees the territorial advantage.
For that advantage, Brentford only really managed to craft two sights at goal. The first, after four minutes, saw Onyeka drift into the box and get on to the end of Toney’s cross, only to send his header over the bar from eight yards while the second ended with Wissa hammering a shot wide from 30 yards.
And as the half went on, Brighton got into their stride. When they could break through Brentford’s press, they had players left up the pitch in attacking areas to capitalise.
Leandro Trossard drifted in from wide on the left and played a neat reverse pass into the box for Danny Welbeck. The Brighton striker thought he had opened up room for a shot, but Ethan Pinnock stuck with him all the way and made a crucial block.
Welbeck had Brighton’s next opening too, his weak header from the over-lapping Pervis Estupinan’s cross was as easy for David Raya to save.
Raya’s following involvements were anything but routine. First, he got a vital touch to turn Moises Caicedo’s swerving drive over the bar before making an even better stop from the resulting corner as a loose ball dropped to Lewis Dunk on the edge of the six-yard box; the defender’s contact with the ball wasn’t the cleanest but Raya still needed to show sharp reactions to beat it to safety.
Despite being forced to play more on the break, Frank’s side were the width of the crossbar away from taking the lead after 24 minutes. Vitaly Janelt whipped in a ball from the left that was flicked on to Bryan Mbeumo. With his first touch, the Cameroon international cushioned an arcing effort towards goal from 15 yards that looped over Sanchez but struck the frame of the goal square on.
Any frustration at that near miss was quickly put to bed when the Bees did go ahead after 27 minutes. It was a goal of clinical quality. Mbeumo battled well out of a tight spot on the touchline and drove infield. He saw, and found, the run of Onyeka whose cutback from the byline was deftly backheeled into the net by Toney at the near post.
The goal didn’t really change the balance of play; Brighton continued to press but Brentford’s backline stood firm. For all their possession, the Seagulls only managed an off-target Lewis Dunk header and a March volley, superbly blocked by Ben Mee, before the sides went in for half-time.
There was a flash point right at the end of the half for Michael Salisbury to deal with when Frank and Joel Veltman clashed going for a loose ball in the Brentford technical area. Players and coaches from both sides got involved before Salisbury brought calm to proceedings and showed both head coaches yellow cards.
Brighton continued to make the running in the early stages after the break, again without causing Raya too many issues.
Alexis Mac Allister’s well-struck effort was diverted away from goal by Janelt and Welbeck headed over but that was the sum of their attacking production.
The Bees hadn’t created too much of their own, aside from an off-target Mee header, but were given a golden chance after 64 minutes when Toney was brought down by Veltman’s clumsy challenge in the area.
Toney’s 19 previous penalties for Brentford had all been successful and number 20 was no different, Sanchez guessing wrong and the ball nestling in the back of the net. It was Toney’s eighth of the season already, only Manchester City’s Erling Haaland now sits above him in the goalscoring charts.
If Toney had been the star of the opening 65 minutes, there was no doubt that Raya was the star of the final 25 minutes as the away side searched desperately for a way back into the game.
A deflected Mac Allister effort from range was comfortably dealt with by the Spanish stopper. Moments later, March looked certain to half the arrears when he met Kaoru Mitoma’s dinked cross with a powerful header from the edge of the six-yard box, but Raya again won the battle, spreading himself and getting enough contact on the ball to send it spinning across goal and wide.
Frank used all the options available to him from the bench in the closing stages - Sergi Canós came on for his first action of the season following injury.
The changes helped to break up the flow of the game and prevented the away side getting up any real head of steam as Brentford closed in on the points.
Mac Allister again found Raya more than equal to his shot from range with one of Brighton’s few late chances. Brentford could have sealed the points in the 88th minute when substitute Josh Dasilva hooked a looping ball into the box. It bounced all the way across to Mads Roerslev who shot from the edge of the box. The effort took a deflection, spun up and over Sanchez and towards goal before being cleared off the line. VAR took a quick check as the ball had passed close to Dunk’s hand on its way over from Dasilva but decided no penalty.
Six minutes of injury-time passed without too much worry; Adam Lallana’s header a simple claim for Raya while Caicedo and Deniz Undav had shots blocked by the wall of red and white defenders.
The full-time whistle was greeted with loud cheers from all sides of the ground as the Bees secured a hard-fought third win of the campaign.
Brentford: Raya; Ajer, Pinnock, Mee, Henry (Ghoddos 87); Janelt, Onyeka (Baptiste 71), Jensen (Dasilva 80); Mbeumo (Canós 80), Wissa (Roerslev 71), Toney
Subs not used: Cox, Zanka, Lewis-Potter, Damsgaard
Brighton and Hove Albion: Sanchez; March, Veltman, Dunk, Webster, Estupinan (Mitoma 45); Mac Allister, Caicedo; Groß (Lallana 68), Trossard (Undav 69); Welbeck
Subs not used: Steele, Lamptey, Sarmiento, Enciso, Gilmour, Turns
Reaction: Thomas Frank
Thomas Frank labelled Brentford’s 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion a ‘beautiful, ugly win’.
Reaction: David Raya
David Raya said he feels like the Gtech Community Stadium is a ‘fortress’ after the Bees secured a 2-0 win.