Frank calls for Toney England recall after striker nets in Wolves win

Thomas Frank urged Gareth Southgate to recall Ivan Toney for England after the Brentford striker came off his sick bed to seal the points in a shock 2-0 win at Wolves.

The Bees came to the Black Country without a single point on the road since late October, but struck a deserved opener 10 minutes before half-time when Christian Norgaard nodded Sergio Reguilon’s corner beyond a stranded Jose Sa.

Wolves twice hit the post through Pedro Neto and thought they had found an equaliser when Craig Dawson glanced a cross home before VAR ruled the defender offside.

The hosts dominated the second period but struggled to create further opportunities without the influential Matheus Cunha, who worryingly headed straight down the tunnel after being substituted following a heavy fall before half-time.

In fact, Brentford showed little sign of a team who had dropped a league-high 26 points from winning positions, and instead displayed a clinical edge as Toney coolly volleyed a second home from their only chance of the second half.

That was enough to end a run of seven defeats from eight for the visitors, who moved six points above the relegation zone with a vital three points.

“I know what Ivan can bring and I think it’s something different England don’t have,” said Frank afterwards of his forward, who earned his one England cap against Ukraine at Wembley last March.

“He played a fine game, not a top game but the strikers need to score goals. He scored again when he had to and he played with illness, he was ill Thursday, Friday and today.

“It shows everything about his mentality. He is unique. He has always been committed for the team, for the club and his team-mates.

“Who knows what is going to happen in the summer? What Ivan is very good at is being in the moment, right now, here, ready. That’s what he is focusing on.

“It would be great if he keeps going. He has all the qualities for it. We know we will create chances for him and big chances.”

Player ratings

Wolves: Sa (6), Semedo (6), Kilman (6), Dawson (5), Toti (6), Ait-Nouri (7), Gomes (6), Lemina (5), Sarabia (6), Cunha (6), Neto (7).

Subs used: Bellegarde (6), Fraser (5), Doyle (5), Doherty (n/a).

Brentford: Flekken (7), Collins (8), Pinnock (7), Mee (7), Roerslev (6), Jensen (7), Norgaard (8), Janelt (7), Reguilon (7), Maupay (6), Toney (7).

Subs used: Yarmolyuk (6), Lewis-Potter (7), Ajer, Baptiste (n/a).

Player of the match: Christian Norgaard.

How Brentford upset the odds at Molineux

Thomas Frank had insisted his side had deserved more than their dismal recent run of form and sent his side out to prove it from the off at Molineux, with the high-pressing and quick tempo of old finally back in full flow from the first whistle.

Wolves never got to grips with their first-half intensity and Neal Maupay twice could have put them ahead in the early stages, first denied on the half-volley by Sa before his glancing header from the resulting corner was comfortably held.

Christian Norgaard celebrates after opening the scoring
Christian Norgaard’s goal was his second of the season and his first since October

Norgaard made sure his contribution was more telling when he got to another corner with half-time approaching, holding off Dawson to nod into an unguarded net at the near post after Sa failed to anticipate his late run.

It was an unusually timid showing from Gary O’Neil’s side, not aided by Cunha’s withdrawal, and it was no surprise they returned with more fight and intent, as well as a change in shape to accompany Nathan Fraser’s introduction.

Neto had pulled a strong stop out of Mark Flekken with Wolves’ best effort before the break and he went closer soon after it, smacking the base of the post following a deep cross, before the hosts thought their improvement had been rewarded through Dawson’s header.

He glanced Neto’s inviting delivery past a motionless Flekken only to see his moment of redemption cut short, when a VAR review noticed him inches ahead of the last man and just offside.

Team news headlines

  • Wolves were unchanged from the side who beat Chelsea last weekend, but were still without Hang-Chee Hwang despite his return from the Asian Cup.
  • Brentford also named the same line-up which lost to Man City on Monday, though had Saman Ghoddos back among the substitutes.

Brentford heeded the warning and dug in for the rest of the second period, resolutely defending their 18-yard box while struggling to make anything stick on the break.

They made their one opportunity of the half count as Toney showed the Bees what they had been missing, and how Cunha’s absence had robbed Wolves, by anticipating Vitaly Janelt’s floated cross perfectly and holding off his man to beat Sa from 12 yards.

Wolves never threatened from then on, as the hosts continued to dominate without a cutting edge, and a muted Molineux fast began to empty.

What’s next?

Both Wolves and Brentford are back in Premier League action next Saturday.

Wolves travel to Tottenham on February 17; kick-off 3pm. Brentford return to the Gtech next weekend as they host Liverpool; kick-off 12.30pm.

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