Fulham will be playing Premier League football next season after defeating Brentford 2-1 after extra-time in the Championship play-off final, thanks to a Joe Bryan brace.
On the stroke of the interval in extra-time, Bryan saw goalkeeper David Raya was off his line and beat him from a deep free-kick where a cross was expected instead of firing past the scrambling goalkeeper at the near post to decide the richest game in football.
Bryan, the hero of the match for Fulham, added a second even deeper in extra-time to cap off a dramatic win – and promotion for Scott Parker’s club. A late consolation from Henrik Dalsgaard proved irrelevant.
The two teams ended the regular season on the same number of points and there was little to separate them in a cagey first half where flowing football wasn’t coming from either side, but Fulham were marginally on top and had the better chances.
Josh Onomah produced a couple of smart saves from David Raya – once from 30 yards out, once from eight – while the Brentford goalkeeper was also lucky to escape without conceding when he gave the ball away inside his own penalty area.
The Bees picked things up after the break and got forward in numbers more often, but chances remained hard to come by and Fulham had the better ones, with Bobby Decordova-Reid squandering a close-range opportunity.
Brentford’s best opening came when Ollie Watkins was afforded time to shoot from the edge of the box, but his well-struck effort was too close to the goalkeeper.
Extra-time was needed and Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic, the Championship’s top scorer this season, was on the pitch for it, having only been fit enough for a place on the bench.
Getting booked for a needless confrontation was his first contribution of note, but with Bryan’s first goal the next kick of the game he may claim it contributed to Raya’s misjudgement.
Mitrovic then teed up Bryan for the second, which came after Fulham opted against trying to keep the ball in the corner, and tat two-goal cushion proved vital.