Thomas Frank said he would pour himself an extra glass of red wine after watching his Brentford team, reduced to 10 men midway through the second half, rack up another milestone on their impressive journey. Ivan Toney, who would have joined Wolves as a teenager but for failing a medical, led the way after extending his flawless record from the penalty spot before Bryan Mbeumo turned in after a barnstorming run by Toney to earn their first Premier League away win with a comprehensive victory at Wolves.
For Wolves, it is now four defeats from five league matches under Bruno Lage and, for all of the suffering they inflicted in slender defeats to Tottenham and Manchester United here before victory at Watford, this performance felt like they regressed back to square one. They were full of hot air in the final third and failed to muster a shot on target, though Adama Traoré saw a first-half shot cannon against the crossbar via Pontus Jansson. Shandon Baptiste was sent off after he picked up a silly second yellow card for a challenge akin to a rugby tackle on halfway but Brentford defended gallantly and Wolves toiled.
The groans in the Wolves crowd as Romain Saïss saw an ambitious volley sail over and the home support beckoning their goalkeeper José Sa to take aim from halfway seconds before the interval said everything. If anything summed up another frustrating afternoon, however, it was the sight of Raúl Jiménez throwing his headguard to the floor after heading over late on, with his most memorable contribution arguably a failed first-half rabona. Lage was equally narked by what he felt was some serial timewasting.
At one point in the second half, the Brentford goalkeeper David Raya changed his gloves – Frank insisted he could provide photographic evidence of a hole – and Jansson seemed to relish the role of pantomime villain among Wolves supporters as he received medical treatment. “The last 45 minutes I need to understand how many minutes we played because I saw too many [Brentford] players on the floor,” Lage said. “There is a different way of managing the game instead of spending the time like that. It was too much.”
It was no surprise that Lage called on Hwang Hee-chan at half-time, switching to a back four in the process and the striker would surely have hit the target in the second half but for the stealth of Kristoffer Ajer. The Brentford defender roared with delight after a goal-saving intervention, clenching his fists and chest-bumping Jansson after snaffling the ball to safety as the striker shaped to pull the trigger. “We were brave, bodies on the line, and we played with presence,” Frank said. “We defended with our heart, with soul.”
Lage rued Marçal’s decision to manhandle Toney at a Brentford corner, which paved the way for the visitors to cruise into a two-goal half-time lead. Toney rolled in the subsequent penalty to extend his perfect record from the spot in a Brentford shirt (12 from 12) before storming down the left to supply Mbeumo, lurking unmarked at the back post, six minutes later.
Mbeumo spurned a chance to increase his and Brentford’s advantage 18 seconds after the break and again when clattering against the crossbar with a minute to play. Toney equally enjoyed himself. The striker had two first-half goals disallowed – the first when Mbeumo was penalised for offside and then for handball – and on another day would have ended up with the match ball. “It was a 10 out of 10 performance,” Frank said of Toney, before praising his blooming partnership with Mbeumo. “They are a dynamic duo. It is not the same but it is a little bit like [Dwight] Yorke and [Andy] Cole.”