Ivan Toney’s hat-trick gave Brentford a significant 3-1 win at fellow relegation rivals Norwich as Christian Eriksen impressed on his first start for the Bees.
Eriksen, who was making his first professional start since he suffered a cardiac arrest while playing for Denmark at Euro 2020 in June, had a hand in Toney’s opener (32).
The Dane’s corner was flicked on by Kristoffer Ajer at the front post, and Toney had a simple finish to give the visitors a half-time lead.
Another Eriksen corner then led to Brentford’s second as Ben Gibson was adjudged to have fouled Pontus Jansson with a high foot in the box, referee Anthony Taylor awarding a penalty following a VAR review.
Toney coolly sent Krul the wrong way to add his second (52) and put Brentford on track for their first win since the start of January.
- Christian Eriksen made his first start for Brentford at Carrow Road, his first start since suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 in June.
- Eriksen was one of three changes by Thomas Frank as he brought in Ivan Toney and Sergi Canos for Mathias Jensen, Josh Dasilva and Yoane Wissa.
- Norwich boss Dean Smith made two changes from their Premier League defeat at Southampton as Tim Krul replaced Angus Gunn in goal while Sam Byram came in for Max Aarons.
Just five minutes later Toney completed his first Premier League hat-trick with another penalty (57) after Gibson was at fault again.
The Norwich defender brought Toney down when through on goal, and although Krul guessed correctly as Toney opted for the same side, the result was the same.
Norwich thought they had pulled one back in the 67th minute through Milot Rashica, but VAR ruled Teemu Pukki offside during the build-up to the disallowed goal.
Ten minutes later, VAR then denied Brentford a fourth goal as Bryan Mbeumo’s strike was disallowed after Ethan Pinnock was offside.
But VAR could not rule out Pukki’s late consolation for the home side (90+2) after he volleyed home from close-range following some good work from substitute Jonathan Rowe.
But defeat for Norwich keeps them bottom, five points adrift of safety while Brentford move six points clear of the relegation zone and end an eight-game Premier League winless run.
Opta stats: Norwich have their worst PL points haul at this stage
- Norwich’s haul of 17 points from their first 27 games of a season is their worst return at this stage in top-flight history (converting to 3 points/win), while they have shipped more goals after 27 games than in any previous top-flight campaign (58).
- Brentford ended a run of eight Premier League games without a win (D1 L7), since beating Aston Villa 2-1 on January 2nd.
- Norwich have posted a goal difference of -42 after 27 Premier League games this season, the fifth worst negative differential at this stage in top-flight history, and the worst since Derby’s -44 figure in 2007-08.
- Brentford became the 40th team to boast a Premier League hat-trick scorer, while they remain the only side in the history of the competition not to concede one.
- Brentford’s Ivan Toney has scored in each of his last four starts in all competitions, last netting in four starts in a row in January/February 2021. The striker’s hat-trick was his second in all competitions for the Bees and his fifth overall (three for Peterborough).
- Ivan Toney has converted all 16 of his penalties for Brentford in all competitions, with the striker netting two spot-kicks in a single game for just the second time, also doing so for Shrewsbury against Northampton in League One in October 2016.
- Courtesy of his goals against Brentford in both Premier League meetings this season, Norwich striker Teemu Pukki has scored home and away against the same opponent in a single Premier League campaign for the first time.
Frank: Eriksen has extra magic | Toney best penalty-taker in world
Brentford head coach Thomas Frank:
“We needed to build Christian [Eriksen] right so we knew that he needed those three weeks training with the team, but his physical foundation was really good.
“We knew he’d go close to playing 90 [minutes] soon. It’ll take him a few more games before he’s up to the top standards he’ll provide, but the delivery for the first goal and the five balls in behind, you can just see he’s got that extra magic, so no doubt that he will help us.
Asked about Toney’s penalties: “I think the stats speak for themselves. The coolness and his strategy. For me, at this moment, he is the best penalty-taker in the world.”
Smith: Disappointed with result and officials
Norwich head coach Dean Smith:
“I’m really disappointed with the result and really disappointed with the official’s performances as well.
“I was really pleased with our first-half performance; I thought we were the better team and probably deserved to be in the lead but the set-piece undone us.
“Within three moments we’re 3-0 down and you can’t quite understand why because Brandon Williams is brought down in the penalty box. For me, it’s clear and obvious but unfortunately we’re subjected to a word called subjection, whether it’s clear and obvious.
“I can see why Ben Gibson’s [foul] was given but that then changes the game. We should have a penalty but they get a penalty and score. Then another moment when Ben Gibson shouldn’t go to ground. It’s a poor decision to go to ground but he doesn’t touch him and a penalty is given.
“I don’t feel like I’ve been out-footballed or we’ve been outplayed but we’ve lost a game that was massive for us. I’m disappointed with the outcome.”
Man of the match – Ivan Toney
At half-time, this award very much looked like going to Eriksen on his first Brentford start, but sentiment cannot get in the way as Toney was very much the hero for the Bees at Carrow Road.
A first Premier League hat-trick and a first Brentford top-flight hat-trick since 1937, marks a superb achievement for Toney, who has played at all four levels of English football.
The 25-year-old also kept up his impressive penalty record having now converted all 16 of his penalties for Brentford in all competitions.
Norwich welcome Chelsea in the Premier League on Thursday at 7.30pm, while Brentford host Burnley in the Premier League on March 12 at 3pm.