Brentford 1 – 2 Newcastle United. Alexander Isak scored a superb winner as Newcastle came from behind to beat Brentford and strengthen their position in the Premier League’s top four.
After Joelinton’s ball across the face of goal was diverted into the net by Brentford goalkeeper David Raya to level the scores after 54 minutes, Eddie Howe’s side got the decisive goal seven minutes later when Isak curled his first-time shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Brentford had enjoyed the better of the first half and went in front on the stroke of half-time through Ivan Toney’s penalty, awarded after the video assistant referee (VAR) spotted a foul from Isak on Rico Henry at a corner.
Toney, who also had a goal disallowed for offside, had missed the chance to put Thomas Frank’s side ahead earlier in the half after Kevin Schade burst past Fabian Schar and was brought down inside the box by Sven Botman’s clumsy challenge.
However, having scored his previous 10 Premier League spot-kicks, Toney had his tame effort saved by Newcastle keeper Nick Pope.
Newcastle were vastly improved in the second half after bringing on Anthony Gordon and Callum Wilson at the break and the latter, who set up the second goal for Isak, thought he had scored the third, only for VAR to get involved again and rule it out for a handball by the striker.
The home side found a second wind after being pegged back for much of the half and pressed for an equaliser late on. Toney came closest but saw one header parried away by Pope and a second drop just over the bar in stoppage time.
Newcastle have won five consecutive league games and are back to third, three points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham in the battle for Champions League qualification, while Brentford drop to ninth, albeit just four points off sixth.
Newcastle failed to muster a single shot on target in a lacklustre first-half display, and having been punished following the concession of two penalties before the break their winning run was under serious threat.
Whatever Howe said at half-time clearly worked though, as Newcastle came out with the energy and intensity so lacking in the first 45 minutes.
They moved the ball quicker, with more purpose and while Raya was unfortunate that Joelinton’s square ball ricocheted off his heel and into his own net, the goal had been coming.
As Newcastle grew in the game, so too did Isak. After a quiet first half he was freed up by the introduction of Wilson and found himself in dangerous positions to stretch the home defence.
As much as his intelligent movement, Isak’s finishing has stood out since moving to St James’ Park – and it was in evidence again.
Wilson rolled the ball to him on the edge of the area and the cleanly struck, curling strike was in the moment it left his boot.
Newcastle have already exceeded expectations this season, and with nine games to go they are the team with momentum in the Champions League race.
With the strength of mentality they showed to fight back in the second half, combined with the quality of the likes of Isak, they look set to book their place in Europe’s premier competition next season.
Toney has so often been the hero for Brentford in a remarkable season for the west London club.
But for much of the first half it looked as though it would not be his day, as he had a seventh-minute strike chalked off for offside by VAR and then lost his 100% record from the penalty spot.
A slow, casual approach to the ball has worked so well for Toney over the past few years, but his slow, casual effort from 12 yards saw Pope make a straightforward save to his left after resisting the urge to move early.
Rather than shrink after the miss Brentford continued to have the better of the first half, and when given a second chance from the spot Toney made no mistake, beating Pope with an altogether more convincing strike.
When Newcastle stepped it up after the break though, the Bees appeared to have no answer.
Up against sides with far greater resources, Frank men’s have done remarkably well to put themselves in a position to challenge for Europe, but in the 20 minutes after half-time the scale of their task was laid bare.
However, that has never fazed them and they showed all the fighting spirit – and no little technical skill and tactical nous – that has got them into their current position as they spent much of the last 15 minutes in the Newcastle half.
Toney remained the chief threat, and while the away side were not hanging on, they were made to work to the end to clinch all three points.
source – BBC