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Fulham return to the Premier League after Joe Bryan heroics

Fulham returned to the Premier League at the first time of asking following their 2-1 win over rivals Brentford in the Championship play-off final on Tuesday night.

The Cottagers were regarded by many as the potential underdogs for the west London derby, given the Bees had a dominant record against them in the past 10 meetings with six wins, three draws and just one defeat.

The opening half of the play-off final was an even-sided affair. While the Cottager had the greater possession, neither side were able to muster more than one shot on target.

Fulham’s Harrison Reed was the main topic of discussion during the half-time break as he was probably lucky to avoid a red card after he caught midfielder Christian Nørgaard with his studs just above his boot.

In the second half, there was not much excitement on either end with the teams appearing to cancel out each other and that took the game to added extra-time.

Ultimately, Joe Bryan broke the deadlock for the Cottagers in the 105th minute after his stunning 35-yard free-kick which outfoxed Bees goalkeeper David Raya.

The left-back initially shaped to wipe in a cross for his teammates at the far post, but after noticing Raya off his line, he aimed his effort at the near post, which caught the Spaniard completely off guard and embarrassed.

Brentford pushed for the equaliser thereafter, but Bryan doubled the Cottagers’ advantage in the 117th minute after a superb one-two with Aleksandar Mitrovic before curling an effort past Raya with his weaker right foot.

Henrik Dalsgaard scored a late goal in stoppage time for the Bees, but it was too late as referee Martin Atkinson blew the whistle shortly after the game was restarted.

Bryan’s second goal on the night ultimately proved the game-changing moment for the Cottagers, who have returned to the top-flight after the solitary season out.

Meanwhile, Thomas Frank should be bitterly disappointed, considering his team previously squandered their chance of automatic promotion. The Bees’ are set to enter their 74th year without an appearance in the top tier of English football.

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