The Championship Playoff Final is often labeled “The Richest Match In The World.” Because it is. The winner gets promoted to the Premier League, and along with it the aircraft carrier of TV money, increased ticket prices, uptick in merchandise, and everything else. It is estimated that winning the game is worth some $220M to a club at least, depending on how they fare in the Premier League over the ensuing seasons, which can transform a club for years.
Because of those stakes, the match itself is usually a turgid endurance test for anyone watching it. It’s one thing when a mistake can cost your team three points in the table. It’s another when it can cost it hundreds of millions of dollars. So no one wants to make that mistake.
Today’s Fulham-Brentford tilt was no different, a scoreless draw into extra-time that made just about everyone’s eyes bleed if they watched it for more than 10 minutes. That was until Fulham’s left back Joe Bryan had clearly had enough.
The cheek to even think of shooting from there is off the charts. And no matter how far off his line Brentford keeper David Raya was, the target from a full 55 yards is still quite small. And that target has to be hit with venom, because Raya would have gotten there otherwise. It’s simply ludicrous. Generally, the goals in games of these stakes is some scrappy, bungled effort that barely creeps over the line. This is a goal to warn off an approach from Thanos.
Turns out Bryan is one of the more thoughtful players anywhere in England, which only enriches this. Bryan would go on to score the clincher in the second half of extra time as well.
It’s heartbreak for Brentford, and for those who wanted to see a new face in the Premier League as well as one of the more innovative teams around. Brentford are what would happen if Moneyball ran a club completely, as they’ve punched way above their weight all season.
But no one can stand up against a goal like this.