By Oyinlola Awonuga (The New Diplomat’s Entertainment Fashion and Sports Desk)
It took two extra-time goals from Joe Bryan for Fulham to beat Brentford in the Championship play-off final and secure an immediate return to the Premier League.
The left-back caught Bees goalkeeper David Raya off guard with a free-kick from 40 yards in the 105th minute of the game at Wembley, with the Spaniard expecting a cross and then unable to scamper back and save Bryan’s skidding low effort.
With the Bees pouring forward in search of an equalizer, Bryan burst forward and combined with Aleksandar Mitrovic before stabbing past Raya to make the game safe with three minutes remaining.
Henrik Dalsgaard pulled a goal back with a header from eight yards out in the fourth minute of added time, but it was too late for the Bees to spark a comeback.
The goals from Bryan were two rare moments of quality and quick-thinking in an otherwise cagey encounter between the two west London rivals, which finished goalless after 90 minutes.
Fulham’s manager, Scott Parker celebrated wildly at full-time having led Fulham to promotion in his first full season as manager.
The 39-year-old was unable to save them from top-flight relegation after replacing Claudio Ranieri in February 2019, but can now prepare them for a 15th campaign in the Premier League.
Parker was unable to call on top scorer Mitrovic, returning from injury, from the start – but the Serbia international showed composure to tee-up Bryan for the crucial second goal with a slick one-two inside the box.