Fulham boss Scott Parker revealed how he and two-goal hero Joe Bryan discussed pretending to cross while targeting Brentford goalkeeper David Raya’s near post before breaking the deadlock.
Bryan scored the opener in Tuesday night’s Championship play-off final with a 40-yard free-kick which Raya thought was going to be swung in towards Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Seconds before taking the set piece, Bryan and Parker spoke on the touchline, with the Fulham boss instructing the left back to ignore Mitrovic and go for goal.
Brentford goalkeeper David Raya was caught out by Joe Bryan’s clever 40-yard free-kick
Bryan’s set-piece from 40 yards beat Raya at his near post in extra time on Tuesday night
Keeper was expecting a cross and unable to scamper back and save Bryan’s skidding low effort
Bryan tricked Raya, whose starting position left a lot of space to his right, and scored the goal which got Fulham on their way to winning the £160million match.
‘The opening goal was planned,’ Parker said. ‘We looked at his positioning from free-kicks – very aggressive in his starting position. I called Joe over to try to make out we were doing something tactical but I told him to keep an eye on his positioning and commit to the shot.
‘He did that and it’s worked. We tried this in the last game and went nowhere near the goal. Tonight thankfully it worked. My staff deserve full credit for that and the planning they did.’
Bryan added: ‘The keeper comes ridiculously far off his line. That’s something we practised.’
Bryan celebrates his brilliant first goal from a free-kick with the Fulham bench at Wembley
Bryan showed tremendous athleticism to score his second, before Henrik Dalsgaard got a consolation goal for Brentford. Parker couldn’t hold back the tears at full time.
Speaking afterwards, Parker said: ‘I feel emotional. The journey you go on, the ups and downs, I’m the face that fronts it up. But behind the scenes is a support network of people that keep you going.’
Fulham were also promoted to the Premier League via the play-offs in 2018 before spending £100m on signings, only to be relegated back to the Championship immediately.
The error by Brentford’s Spanish keeper proved crucial in the Championship play-off final
Parker spoke of the ‘wounds’ he had to heal inside of the club following that and added they have to learn from their mistakes by not making such ‘drastic changes’ this summer.
‘One hundred per cent,’ said the Fulham boss. ‘There were some clear errors made last time. We will learn from that, we need to learn. We’re going into the best league in the world, with the best players, the best teams, a brutal league. I realise the challenge ahead.
‘We all understand that and we will learn from our mistakes. You can’t build teams with drastic changes or a drastic swing of players.’
Fulham boss Scott Parker said he had discussed with Bryan about targeting Raya’s near post
A modest Bryan added on Sky Sports: ‘I’m not the hero. Every single one of them boys, players, staff, supporters, everyone who has been with us all season. It’s been unbelievable. We’ve been written off five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten times. I even read somewhere we were supposed to be scared of them. But we took it to them and we scored twice.’
Bryan had spoken to Parker immediately before scoring his free-kick. On what was said, Bryan added: ‘Whip it in the near post. ‘That (giving the goalkeeper the eyes) from my dad.
‘We used to practise in the field. He used to give me the eyes when he made me go in goal.’
Bryan’s brace earned a 2-1 victory over Brentford in the Championship play-off final
Bryan celebrates with Fulham boss Scott Parker after sealing instant return to Premier League