Bry ‘n’ mighty
HITMAN MBEUMO ENSURES TONEY ISN’T MISSED
BRYAN MBEUMO showed Brentford they can bet on him to provide the goals in Ivan Toney’s absence as he put a major dent in Tottenham’s Europa League hopes.
The Cameroonian’s two second-half strikes, which both came within 16 minutes of an inspired tactical switch by Bees boss Thomas Frank, cancelled out Harry Kane’s early opener.
Yoane Wissa then put the seal on a job well done late on for the visitors to lift the spirits after a difficult few days for Toney, Frank and Co.
Unsurprisingly, boos rang around the ground at the final whistle.
And not only will Spurs now do well to finish in the top six, they could even miss out on seventh place and the Europa Conference League too if they fail to beat Leeds next Sunday and other results go against them.
Chairman Daniel Levy had promised in his pre-match programme notes to work relentlessly in the coming weeks to put the blocks in place for the club to start playing the kind of football fans enjoy again.
But securing the right calibre of manager will be even harder if there’s no European football whatsoever on offer next season.
Frank, on the other hand, had long since written off his side’s hopes of qualifying for Europe, yet this win means there’s a glimmer of hope that they could creep into the lowest-ranking of the three continental competitions.
That’s unlikely, though, as Brighton would have to lose all three of their remaining fixtures and Spurs their last game.
But the fact it’s mathematically possible at this stage is a testament to the work Frank, his staff and his players have done.
They weren’t much cop in the first half, to be fair, and when Kane wrapped his right boot round a 25-yard effort after Dejan Kulusevski back-heeled a free-kick into his path, Toney’s absence because of his gambling ban looked like it might start to bite straight away.
Spurs could have been further ahead at the break after Heung-min Son was denied at the end of a good move by an excellent Aaron Hickey block and David Raya tipped Kulusevski’s shot over after a mix-up between Ethan Pinnock and Vitaly Janelt let him in.
Frank’s half-time switch saw Mikkel Damsgaard replace Frank Onyeka, and Damsgaard quickly released Wissa. He in turn found Mbeumo (left), who fired home past Fraser Forster.
Damsgaard was again involved early in the play which led to the second Brentford goal, Mbeumo slotting home from a tight angle from Hickey’s pass.
And Wissa settled matters with a tidy finish in the closing moments, after Oliver Skipp’s mistake led to a turnover of possession.
Richarlison’s header was tipped on to a post by Raya in stoppage time but it would have been too little, too late for Spurs and their fans, who were left frustrated for the last time this season – but certainly not for the first.