Fulham players celebrate after beating Brentford (AP photo)
London: Fulham secured an instant return to the Premier League on Tuesday after one season away by beating west London rival Brentford 2-1 in the Championship playoff final.
Joe Bryan scored twice in extra time at Wembley to give Fulham the win in what is widely called the most lucrative game in football. Fulham will receive at least 135 million pounds ($176 million) over three years after securing promotion, a year after being relegated from the world's richest football league.
Fulham owner Shahid Khan failed with a bid to buy Wembley a year ago, and his team had to celebrate in an empty stadium on Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bryan broke the deadlock after catching goalkeeper David Raya by surprise with a free kick from nearly 35 yards in the 105th minute as both teams expected a cross into the box.
"The goalkeeper comes ridiculously far off his line," Bryan said.
The left back netted again in the 117th minute after playing a one-two with Aleksandar Mitrovic to clinch promotion in Scott Parker's first full season in charge of Fulham.
Brentford, which boasted a 59-goal strike force in Said Benrahma, Bryan Mbeumo and Ollie Watkins, was kept in check in the most important match of the season.
Henrik Dalsgaard's header in the third minute of stoppage time was too late for Brentford, which was trying to return to the top division after a 73-year absence.