LONDON (AP) — Striker Ivan Toney sent a World Cup message to England boss Gareth Southgate by firing Brentford to a 2-0 win over Brighton in the Premier League on Friday.
Toney was summoned by England for the first time last month but didn’t get to play against Italy and Germany. But he is becoming harder to ignore after boosting his case with a cute backheel followed by yet another penalty.
Toney has eight league goals, level with Harry Kane. Only Erling Haaland has scored more.
Brighton warmed up in shirts bearing the name of Enock Mwepu at their first game since the 24-year-old midfielder had to retire because of a hereditary heart condition. They put plenty of pressure on the Bees early.
Brentford did not score in two defeats to Brighton last season, but Toney ended that.
Bryan Mbeumo won the ball back and played Frank Onyeka down the right. Onyeka’s low cross was met with an instinctive backheel flick from Toney, the ball slipping through the legs of Seagulls defender Adam Webster as it rolled in in the 27th minute.
There was an unseemly, and wholly unnecessary, skirmish on the touchline before halftime when Brentford boss Thomas Frank tried to prevent Joel Veltman from collecting the ball for a quick throw-in.
Staff from both teams got involved in the shoving and posturing before referee Michael Salisbury restored some order and booked Frank and Brighton counterpart Roberto De Zerbi.
Veltman was the villain after the break when his clumsy foul on Toney gave the “best penalty-taker in the world,” according to Frank, the chance to take his spot kick tally for Brentford to 20 out of 20.
He did just that, sending Seagulls keeper Robert Sanchez the wrong way and giving Southgate another nudge in the process.
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