If this was a glimpse into life after Aleksandar Mitrovic for Marco Silva, then it is fair to say he will have been spooked by what he saw.
Fulham’s manager went into their second game of the season riding high after an opening-day win and still hoping he would be able to call on his star man for the rest of the season. By the afternoon’s end, there was no doubt – Mitrovic was off – and Silva’s side had been on the wrong end of a west London derby demolition.
The irony was that the thrashing had been delivered by a side also shorn of their talismanic striker, with Brentford’s Ivan Toney suspended until January. But the Bees had ready-made replacements in Yoane Wissa and Bryan Mbeumo to take up the slack in his absence. Fulham looked lost without their shining light.
Their summer of uncertainty shows no signs of abating. Silva spurned his own mega-money move to Saudi Arabia last month but has the air of a man who regrets that decision ever more by the day. He cut a morose figure as he criticised Mitrovic for the circumstances around his impending £45million move to Al Hilal — and suggested there might be more exits on the way.
‘Mitrovic forced everything to leave the club,’ he said. ‘Both clubs have an agreement, it’s the moment for him to leave.
Bryan Mbeumo scored a brace on Saturday as Brentford beat Fulham 3-0
The Cameroon international has now scored three goals in the Bees’ opening two Premier League fixtures
Yoanne Wissa also got on the scoresheet for the second week running in the win
‘He forced it. It’s clear what he did. I’m not saying if I’m disappointed or not in him, he knows my opinion, I told him in private. It was not just Mitrovic in our football club in the last three or four weeks.
‘Is it normal? No. Should footballers behave in this way? No, is the easy answer. It was not like it should be in many aspects.’
Without Mitrovic, Fulham looked toothless as they fell to an emphatic defeat secured through Wissa’s opener and Mbeumo’s second-half penalty. Tim Ream saw red — harshly, it must be said — for fouling Wissa for the spot-kick, and Mbeumo punished the 10 men to make it 3-0 in stoppage time. The home fans’ chants of ‘F*** the Saudis’ was the only Fulham defiance on show at Craven Cottage .
That’s 11 London derbies in a row without defeat for Brentford, whose Toney stand-ins, Mbeumo and Wissa, have scored all five of their goals in their first two games. By contrast, Raul Jimenez — the man who, in the short term at least, will be charged with filling Fulham’s gap up top — is now goalless in 25 league matches.
After a quiet start to the first half, Brentford nearly took the lead in the 38th minute. Wissa’s shot looked bound for goal or a tap-in for Christian Norgaard, until Antonee Robinson cleared brilliantly off the line.
But the Bees, and Wissa, didn’t have to wait long for an opener – and when it came, it was an absolute gift. Issa Diop was under little pressure when he completely miskicked a routine pass at the back. Wissa pounced, danced around Bernd Leno and slotted home into an empty net.
Fulham came out strong after half-time. Bobby Decordova-Reid was a few inches away from equalising, as his curled shot from the edge of the box hit the crossbar. But though their more ambitious approach reaped rewards, it came with risk attached and Brentford soon came close to adding a second on the counter, Leno forced to tip over an effort from Jensen.
Wissa was in again a few minutes later and fell under the challenge of Ream, who put an arm across the forward. It was soft, but also clumsy, and referee Darren Bond pointed to the spot. A disbelieving Ream received his marching orders for a second yellow card and the game was all-but-over when Mbeumo sent the spot-kick into the bottom left corner, leaving Leno no chance.
‘The ref is always right,’ insisted Wissa when asked about the penalty decision at full time. Silva disagreed. ‘It was completely the wrong decision from the referee,’ he fumed. ‘I cannot see anything there. It was a clear and obvious mistake.’
Brentford were always likely to be untroubled by Fulham’s 10 men and added a third late on to give the scoreline the gloss their display deserved. Substitute Kristoffer Ajer rampaged up the right flank, combining with Rico Henry, and put the ball on a plate for Mbeumo to tap home for his brace.
‘It was a very good (performance),’ said Bees boss Thomas Frank. ‘This win was 100 per cent for our fans, and I hope they’ll have a fantastic evening in the pubs by the Thames.’ They might just run into Silva drowning his sorrows.
The Bees’ decision not to by an expensive replacement for Ivan Toney appears to be paying off
Fulham captain Tim Ream was sent off in the second half for a second bookable offence
It was a worrying glimpse into life without Aleksandar Mitrovic for Marco Silva’s side
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