A first half penalty from Ivan Toney was enough for give Brentford a win over Everton. The striker slotted home midway through the first period to settle an even game. In a match of few chances, Brentford had the best and that got them the win.
It was an even contest for most of a cold West London afternoon. Toney’s penalty was the first real chance and Brentford did not have many. But they also limited Everton, defended well and did enough to get over the line.
It took a while for the match to get going. The teams cancelled each other out for most of the first 20 minutes. Neither was able to put together much in the way of attacking possession. Brentford played a little more on the front foot than their visitors, but the game was mostly played in the midfield area.
Brentford were patient in possession in the early stages. They looked to build from the back and through midfield, inviting Everton to push men forward as they then looked to play past them. Everton tried to free their wide attackers, supported from full back, and while there were set pieces for Brentford and the odd cross from both sides, nothing happened until the incident that ended with The Bees getting the only goal.
It came from a corner won by Bryan Mbeumo on the left. The first delivery from Sergi Canós was cleared but he got another go and the second was punched away, underneath his crossbar by Jordan Pickford. Frank Onyeka challenged for the loose ball and was kicked in the head by Andros Townsend, Ethan Pinnock won the next ball in to the box and Pontus Jansson was able to shoot, but it lacked power and Pickford saved.
The foul was obvious, but Referee Darren England let play go on and Everton broke away. Lewis Gordon ran most of the length of the pitch and found Salomón Rondón inside the penalty area. He looked set to finish but Mbeumo had sprinted from the other end of the pitch to make the tackle.
At that point, Mr England stopped the game and was alerted by Video Assistant Referee Jonathan Moss that he has missed the foul on Onyeka. Mr England checked the monitor by the side of the pitch and, to the surprise of no-one, pointed to the penalty spot. Toney measured his run up and placed the ball to the right of Pickford, who had leaned the other way, to put Brentford in front.
That lead could have lasted a matter of seconds as Everton went on the attack from kick-off. The ball was worked down the left and then in to the feet of Rondón inside the area. He turned and fired low, but Álvaro Fernández got down well to save with his feet. Townsend got on to the loose ball and delivered a cross, but Fernández was well placed to save the header from Rondón.
The game had sprung in to life and was end-to-end. Mbeumo won a header that allowed Toney to exchange passes with Onyeka. Onyeka ran away on the right and delivered a cross that would have been tapped home by Mbeumo had Pickford not dived full stretch to get his hands on it. Toney then played a pass that released Vitaly Janelt, bursting in to the penalty area. He looked set to shoot but Abdoulaye Doucouré tracked his run back and made a challenge just in time.
Pinnock had a header saved from a long throw as the game continued to flow from end-to-end and when it settled down, The Bees took control. They could have got a second before half time when a clipped pass from Toney reached Mbeumo on the far side. He probably had a fraction more time than he though and snatched at a shot, which was saved by Pickford.
Everton up the tempo in the minutes just before half time and put more men in attacking areas, looking for an equaliser. Lucas Digne fired a free kick over the crossbar before Townsend found space on the right to deliver a cross for the arriving Doucouré. He looked set to head in, but Charlie Goode made a block. Michael Kene fired in a shot from distance that was deflected away and when Brentford cleared the corner, the half ended with them in front.
It could have got even better in the first minute of the second half when Canós met a half cleared long throw on the volley, but his effort fizzed over the crossbar. But The Bees were pushed back at the start of the second period. Everton took control of the midfield area, won more of the second balls and forced Brentford back. The Bees could not build play as they had done in the first start as Allan and Doucouré dominated the centre of the park.
Everton were particularly threatening on the right, with Séamus Coleman providing support on that side. Rondón lashed over when a Goode clearance was charged down. Coleman got away soon after and his cross again dropped to Rondón, but Janelt was well placed to make a block. Brentford failed to clear another cross soon after and Alex Iwobi was able to get a shot away, but this time Fernández got down to save.
Goode made a vital challenge inside the area when it looked like Gordon might be in and Fernández held in to a deflected shot from substitute Demarai Gray as the minutes started to tick down. Everton had the ascendancy and Brentford were forced in to changes with Rico Henry and Christian Nørgaard both leaving the game early, moving uneasily. Canós was also unable to complete the 90 minutes and Mbeumo ended the afternoon at left wing back with Yoane Wissa introduced.
Rondón headed powerfully wide for Everton late on and Fernández saved from Iwobi, but Brentford were mostly allowing Everton to play in front of them, defending their penalty area and stopping the crosses. The Bees could have sealed the game with a second at the death. Shandon Baptiste won possession deep in Everton territory and had space to shoot, instead he found Wissa and the low shot was held by Pickford.
Brentford spent most of the last minutes in Everton territory. They forced the visitors to defend and stopped them pushing forward. After a series of ricochet in the penalty area, Wissa was unable to get a shot away and Mbeumo shot over. That proved to be the last action of the match, Mr England brought proceedings to a close and Brentford had the win.
Brentford: Fernández; Goode, Jansson, Pinnock; Canós (sub Wissa 87 mins), Onyeka, Nørgaard (sub Baptiste 70 mins), Janelt, Henry (sub Roerslev 77 mins); Toney, Mbeumo
Subs (not used): Cox, Bech, Thompson, Ghoddos, Forss, Jensen
Bookings: Onyeka (43 mins), Canós (51 mins), Jansson (67 mins), Mbeumo (90 mins)
Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Godfrey, Digne; Allan, Doucouré; Townsend (sub Gray 70 mins), Iwobi, Gordon; Rondón
Subs (not used): Begović; Kenny, Delph, Tosun, Gbamin, Branthwaite, Simms, Dobbin
Bookings: Townsend (38 mins), Rondón (67 mins), Godfrey (81 mins)
Attendance: 16,957 (1,725 away fans)