22.05.2021 15:58 h

Brentford eye Premier League after reaching play-off final

Brentford are a step closer to the Premier League after staging a thrilling fightback to reach the Championship play-off final with a 3-1 win against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Thomas Frank's side were in danger of defeat in the semi-final second leg after Arnaut Danjuma put Bournemouth 2-0 up on aggregate early in the first half.

But Brentford, who lost the first leg 1-0 on Monday, were given a controversial lifeline when Ivan Toney scored a penalty awarded for handball by Liam Kelly.

Bournemouth defender Chris Mepham was sent off soon after that incident.

To the delight of 4,500 fans at the Brentford Community Stadium, the Bees took full advantage as second half goals from Vitaly Janelt and Marcus Forss sealed a 3-2 aggregate success.

"What a rollercoaster of emotions. Only sport, and especially football, can do that," Frank said.

"I smashed my foot into the ice cooler after their goal. At 2-0 behind it was tough but I was not in doubt that we could still get there.

"We have achieved something big and we know the ultimate is to win the final."

Brentford, who haven't played in the top-flight for 74 years, will face Swansea or Barnsley in the final at Wembley on May 29.

Swansea hold a 1-0 first leg lead heading into the second leg in south Wales later on Saturday.

It will be Brentford's second successive Championship play-off final appearance after they lost to Fulham last season.

With Fulham relegated from the Premier League, Brentford have a chance to pass their west London rivals on the way into the top-flight.

Brentford are battling to avoid another play-off letdown after decades of failure in the end of season lottery.

They have taken part in a record nine play-off campaigns without winning promotion.

Bournemouth are consigned to a second season in the Championship after failing to win an immediate return to the Premier League following last season's relegation.

Cherries boss Jonathan Woodgate said: "I'm absolutely devastated to be honest, the players are as well.

"I can't for the life of me see how he's given a penalty. It hit his thigh then his hand. That changes the game."

Bournemouth had high hopes after only five minutes when Danjuma, who scored the winner in the first leg, burst onto a clearance from a Brentford corner, racing half the length of the pitch before slotting home.

Frank's men drew level in the 15th minute when a cross from Emiliano Marcondes hit Kelly's arm as he slid in to block.

Kelly protested that it was accidental but Toney stepped up to slot home his 32nd goal of the season.

Mepham saw red for bringing down Bryan Mbeumo and Brentford equalised five minutes after the interval as Janelt fired past Asmir Begovic.

Forss came off the bench to bag the 80th minute winner with a close-range finish from Marcondes' cross.