DEFEAT: Toney penalty increases the pressure on Rafael Benitez
PA - John Walton
Ivan Toney came back to haunt his old boss Rafael Benitez with his first-half penalty enough to give Brentford a 1-0 victory over Everton.
The result extended the Toffees’ winless run to seven matches and increased the pressure on the new manager at Goodison Park ahead of Wednesday’s Merseyside derby with his former club Liverpool.
A cool spot-kick by Toney in the 24th minute gave the Bees a first home league win since the opening day and it felt inevitable the forward would have a say on the game after Benitez had been his manager for the majority of his time at Newcastle where he was given limited opportunities.
Everton were boosted by the return to fitness of Abdoulaye Doucoure, although two early wayward passes highlighted the midfielder was not at his best following six weeks out with a broken metatarsal.
The hosts had not won in the Premier League since the start of October and the away side’s run extended a week earlier which perhaps contributed to an inconspicuous start from both in west London.
All that changed during the midway point of the first half, though, when Brentford took the lead after eventually being awarded a penalty.
Andros Townsend was the guilty party with his high boot catching Frank Onyeka in the face, but referee Darren England had allowed play to continue before VAR intervened and called on the official to use the pitchside monitor to review the incident.
Once the spot-kick was given, Toney made no mistake from 12 yards and sent goalkeeper Jordan Pickford the wrong way following a trademark laid-back run-up to extend his penalty record to 19 scored out of 20 efforts.
It was the forward’s fifth goal in all competitions this season and the strike occurred in front of onlooking England manager Gareth Southgate.
Brentford were almost immediately pegged back but Alvaro Fernandez saved well with his feet to deny Salomon Rondon a first goal for the Toffees after Lucas Digne’s pass before the hosts started to build on their opener.
First Doucoure did well to thwart Vitaly Janelt’s run into the area and Ethan Pinnock headed straight at Pickford shortly afterwards while Bryan Mbeumo also saw a tame effort easily stopped by the Toffees keeper.
Everton, without the suspended Richarlison and injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin, had struggled to create but Benitez made no changes at the break and then breathed a sigh of relief when Sergi Canos volleyed over from a good position after another long throw by the Bees had caused problems.
The visitors’ attacking hopes were pinned on Rondon but he saw a goal-bound volley blocked by the legs of Christian Norgaard and Alex Iwobi had a toe-poked shot that was routine for Fernandez to save.
Seamus Coleman had been involved in both opportunities and yet the Bees were able to weather the storm.
It saw Benitez turn to Demarai Gray with 20 minutes left but while he had one deflected shot saved and produced a dangerous ball across the face of goal, it was not enough to stop Everton losing for a fifth time in six games.
The Toffees’ travelling faithful made their feelings known at full-time when the away side went over to thank them for their support but it was Brentford’s day, with Thomas Frank’s team securing a first league victory since October 3.
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