Fulham made an immediate return to the English Premier League as two extra-time goals from full-back Joe Bryan gave them a 2-1 win over Brentford in the Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium.
Bryan opened the scoring near the end of the first period of extra time when he spotted Brentford goalkeeper David Raya out of position and anticipating a cross from his deep free-kick before cleverly driving the ball into the bottom corner.
The Spanish keeper was slow to react, once Bryan had opted to shoot, but the lead was a deserved one for Scott Parker’s side, who had the better of what had been a cagey 90 minutes.
Bryan made sure of the victory with a second goal three minutes from the end of the second period of extra time, clipping home from close range after a burst forward down the left and quick exchange with substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Henrik Dalsgaard pulled a goal back for Brentford in the final seconds but there was no time for a recovery by the Bees, who were searching for a place in the top flight for the first time since 1947.
“I’m not the hero,” said Bryan, as his team mates celebrated their swift return back to the Premier League a year after relegation — an achievement worth around $267 million over three years for the west London club.
“Every single one of them boys, players, staff, supporters, everything’s been with us all season, it’s been absolutely unbelievable. We’ve been written off, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten times. I think I even read somewhere that we were supposed to be scared of them, but we took it to them we scored twice, they made it hard for us,” added Bryan.
Leeds and West Bromwich Albion gained automatic promotion from the Championship, while Brentford had finished third and Fulham fourth.
Brentford had been hoping to return to the top flight of English football for the first time in 73 years.