Ivan Toney was accused of skullduggery after moving the ball – and the referee’s foam – before scoring a direct free-kick on his return to football.
Toney returned for Brentford in the 3-2 victory over Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Speaking after the match, however, Forest manager Nuno Espirito Santo questioned why the video assistant referee did not step in to overturn the goal Toney scored from a free-kick on the edge of the area.
“The law is clear, every goal must be checked and every situation that leads to it must be checked. There are four referees on the pitch and others in VAR. This wasn’t inches, there was a ball displacement of almost a yard.
“It’s another situation that we have to look at but we are at the worst end of it and it’s an important moment because we knew that Brentford were going to react.”
“I think you have a yard either way so I moved it and bent it round the corner,” Toney admitted. “I am grateful it went in.”
When asked whether it was his goalkeeper’s responsibility to tell his wall to move, Nuno replied: “Could be, could be. But the situation is clear, there is a ball displacement. I think everybody saw it. There are referees on the pitch who could tell the referee what’s going on but it’s our responsibility to be a little bit more mature, not to allow the kick to go and then do the wall properly.”
“I didn’t know he did it,” said Thomas Frank, the Brentford head coach. “But what can I say? He’s a clever player, but if it’s not in the rules it’s not good (watch video below).”
'I don't believe the wall was set up right...' 🧱
Could Nottingham Forest have done more to stop Toney's strike? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/eWqzlzrUsf
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 20, 2024
Frank paid tribute to his returning talisman, the inspiration behind Brentford’s first victory after five successive Premier League defeats had sent them tumbling towards the relegation zone.
“This was classic Ivan. He loves the big stage and thrives on it. To come back the way he did was amazing after being out for eight months. Yes, he scored a goal, but his link up and hold up play, his work ethic, his defending of set pieces was super, super impressive. Ivan attracts noise in this circus, most of it positive. It’s like having a new player and I’m so glad we signed him.”
Toney himself, who played 90 minutes plus all 14 added minutes, was delighted to be back. “I missed it so much, the fans and everyone. I manifest things like this. Before the game, I thought ‘we are winning today and I am scoring’. I made it happen. I’m just buzzing. Yeah I am back, I am back.”