Mohamed Salah scored on his Premier League return as Liverpool eased to a 4-1 win at Brentford.

Coming off the bench for his first appearance since injuring a hamstring on duty with Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, he netted his side’s third goal moments after making a brilliant assist for Alexis Mac Allister to make it 2-0.

Darwin Nunez had opened the scoring with a superbly-taken chip to cap a wonderful counter attack in the first half as Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders ensure they would finish the weekend still on top.

Ivan Toney continued his goalscoring form since returning from his gambling ban to briefly give Brentford hope at 3-1.

It was a fleeting moment of optimism, quickly extinguished when substitute Cody Gakpo stroked home Liverpool’s fourth in the closing minutes.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has rejected suggestions he has rushed back players in recent weeks after Trent Alexander-Arnold, Thiago Alcantara and Dominik Szoboszlai all aggravated injuries early in their returns.

Alexander-Arnold will miss the Carabao Cup final later this month because a knee problem recurred in last week’s win over Burnley, Thiago’s comeback after nine months lasted just 10 minutes, while Szoboszlai played just over an hour over two matches before succumbing to the hamstring problem which forced him to miss most of January.

Mohamed Salah returned to training this week after a month out with a hamstring problem sustained on African Nations Cup duty with Egypt but Klopp is confident he is ready to play again.

“Mo is back in full training, that brings him automatically in contention of course,” said Klopp, who has just won his 10th manager of the month award, ahead of the lunchtime kick-off at Brentford.

“I have to clarify a bit: I was not really aware of it but I got the news that there was a discussion we might have forced Trent back. He had two setbacks and it is really unfortunate, no one wants that.

“I am here we never forced anyone back and never will do. But we work in a high-performance area and if you have the same injury you are fit after three days and another guy after four weeks.

“We always try to catch the earliest moment but when we catch that moment no one speaks about it, like with Macca (Alexis Mac Allister) recently and with Diogo (Jota). That’s a job we have to do.

“The last decision is always by the player but if you only listen to the player the player would play after two weeks and then it is a real problem.

“The boys were, in the moment when they played, fit but the (match) situation told us then differently because it happened again.

“We can never know if it would have happened anyway or whether it was something before. Very unlucky and unfortunate.

“It is not great but it says nothing about the quality of anyone. The world we are living in it is always immediately ‘Medical department? I’m not sure about that’ but it is nothing to do with that.

“We have to bring the boys as back as soon as possible but never sooner than they are ready from our point of view.”

Klopp said the injuries to Alexander-Arnold and Szoboszlai were “serious”, with only the latter having a chance of making the cup final a week on Sunday.

“It is a super-intense period. People think now about the final but before the final we have Brentford and Luton and I didn’t think a second about the final yet,” he said.

“It’s not ‘Oh, he can’t play the final’. That’s one game but before that we have two games which is as bad as they cannot play.

“I think with Dominik it will be around that time and Trent maybe a week or two longer. I am not sure Dom has a chance for the final but maybe, and Trent will probably be after.”

In addition to Salah’s return, Klopp has Ibrahima Konate back from suspension, Joe Gomez and goalkeeper Alisson Becker are fit again and Conor Bradley has returned from compassionate leave following the death of his father.

Boss Thomas Frank urged Gareth Southgate to hand Ivan Toney an England recall after his Brentford comeback.

The striker scored his third goal in four games since returning from his eight-month ban for breaching betting rules in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Wolves.

Christian Norgaard’s first-half header put the Bees on course for their first Premier League away win since October, moving them up to 14th.

This week, Frank said Toney – who has one cap – is likely to be sold in the summer but he also feels his star man deserves another chance with England ahead of Euro 2024.

He said: “I know what Ivan can bring and I think it’s something different England don’t have.

“Ivan played a fine game, not a top game but the strikers need to score goals.

“He scored again when he had to and he played with illness, he was ill Thursday, Friday and today.

“It shows everything about his mentality. He is unique.

“He has always been committed for the team, for the club and his team-mates.

“Who knows what is going to happen in the summer? What Ivan is very good at is being in the moment, right now, here, ready. That’s what he is focusing on.

“It would be great if he keeps going. He has all the qualities for it. We know we will create chances for him and big chances.”

Brentford should have won by more after wasting several first-half openings, with Neal Maupay the main culprit.

First, he allowed Jose Sa to save with just the goalkeeper to beat before Sa claimed his header from the resulting corner.

Mads Roerslev blazed over before Maupay missed another opening, shooting at Sa after working space well.

Wolves, who lost Matheus Cunha to a hamstring injury, struggled to get going and fell behind after 35 minutes when Norgaard shook off Craig Dawson to nod in Sergio Reguilon’s corner.

Mark Flekken turned Pedro Neto’s header onto the post just before the break and the forward saw his deflected strike rattle the upright soon after the interval.

From the corner, Brentford failed to clear and when Neto returned the ball Dawson nodded in, only for VAR to rule him narrowly offside.

It was the closest the hosts came to a recovery and Toney sealed the game with a fine cushioned finish from Vitaly Janelt’s cross with 13 minutes left.

“If I sat there last night and tried to imagine things going wrong for us it would have looked like something like that,” said Wolves boss Gary O’Neil.

“It started yesterday when I got the message Channy (Hwang Hee-Chan) was feeling his calf.

“We gave Brentford a little bit of impetus and an unbelievably bad error for the first goal which then gave them the game they wanted, when they take ages over everything,

“You don’t see many goals from chest height in the middle of the goal from three or four yards in the Premier League. From that moment I knew exactly how tough it would be to crack Brentford.

“When you watch that game, it looks like a really bad team performance. It was but there are really clear reasons why.

“Losing Matheus and Channy, the lads being below the level and two terribly bad errors for the goals.”

In-form Ivan Toney struck again as Brentford earned a deserved win at Wolves.

A third goal in four games since the striker’s return from his ban for breaching betting regulations clinched a 2-0 victory at Molineux after Christian Norgaard’s first-half header.

The Bees earned just their third win in 12 Premier League games and gained revenge for Wolves’ 4-1 victory in December and dumping them out of the FA Cup last month.

Pedro Neto twice hit the post and Craig Dawson had a goal disallowed for offside but Wolves failed to score at Molineux in the league for the first time in a year.

Brentford climbed to 14th following a first away win since October, with Wolves 10th, after a victory which should have been greater.

The visitors missed several chances, starting after 11 minutes, when Sergio Reguilon seized on Jose Sa’s misplaced pass to leave Neal Maupay with just the goalkeeper to beat but Sa redeemed himself.

It was a poor miss from the striker and, from the corner, Sa denied Maupay again.

Wolves lost Matheus Cunha – hat-trick hero in the win at Chelsea last week – after just 19 minutes following an awkward fall and it nearly got worse for the hosts a minute later when the Bees blew a big chance.

Reguilon’s low cross caused problems and Rayan Ait-Nouri managed to stop Nathan Collins turning in at the far post, only for the ball to run for Mads Roerslev but the unmarked Dane blasted over.

It was a warning for Wolves and Brentford carried the greater threat with Maupay wasteful again after 31 minutes, shooting straight at Sa after working his way into the box.

The visitors continued to find openings but, ultimately, it was from a set-piece from where they found a 35th-minute opener.

From a Wolves perspective it was a mess as, from Reguilon’s corner, Norgaard shrugged off Dawson’s weak challenge to nod in with Sa nowhere.

For Brentford, it was a deserved lead but they needed Mark Flekken to keep it intact when he turned Neto’s header onto the post two minutes before the break.

The forward was denied by the woodwork again four minutes into the second half when his deflected strike hit the post and just a minute later Neto thought he had conjured a leveller.

Brentford were unable to clear his corner and, when it was returned to the Portugal star, his fine delivery was glanced in by Dawson, only for VAR to narrowly rule him offside.

Fuelled by a sense of injustice, Wolves improved but still struggled to create clear openings. Ait-Nouri nodded over and Jean-Ricner Bellegarde shot over but they never troubled Flekken.

The hosts began to wane and while Toney had been well marshalled he tested Sa from distance with 17 minutes left – before doubling the lead three minutes later.

He had ben quiet all afternoon but a fine cushioned finish from Vitaly Janelt’s cross, after Wolves lost possession, sealed the points.

Thomas Frank hinted Ivan Toney could stay at Brentford beyond the end of the season but accepted the striker’s long-term future lies away from the Gtech Stadium.

A magazine in his native Denmark this week quoted Frank saying the 27-year-old is likely to be sold in the summer but he has now clarified that “a couple of scenarios” remain on the table.

Toney, who returned in January from an eight-month ban for breaching FA gambling rules, is out of contract at the end of next season and has stated his desire to play for a club higher up the Premier League table than the Bees.

He scored on his comeback as Brentford beat Nottingham Forest and again in defeat against Tottenham, but the team remain in relegation trouble with just three points separating them from the bottom three.

Frank, who gave his interview to Tipsbladet in Danish, urged caution in relying on translated text but affirmed the point that Toney ultimately will leave.

“You always need to be aware of translation,” he said. “Google Translate is not always the best.

“It’s the same message as the whole time, I would love him to stay forever. The reality is he’s got one more year left on his contract in the summer. I think he’s been pretty open about playing for a top club in the future.

“There’s a couple of scenarios; he leaves in the summer, he leaves in the winter, or he stays until the end.

“If he’s leaving – whatever, summer, winter or the summer after – I think it will be fantastic seeing him playing for a top club.”

Frank would not be drawn on reports that Neal Maupay was threatened by Manchester City’s Kyle Walker during Monday’s meeting, after the Brentford forward allegedly made remarks about Walker’s family.

Maupay, who has scored five goals in his last five games including the one that gave his side the lead against the champions before going on to lose 3-1, has been accused of provoking the England defender.

“I don’t want to go into speculation about that,” said Frank. “For me, it’s done, it’s over. I don’t know what they said.

“I see a player that played a year and a half at another club, didn’t score a goal, now he’s got five on the bounce for us. He’s doing very well for us.

“I understand the question. He can get a little bit in the middle of things sometimes. Life is balance.

“I think some players need it more than others to get going, and we need him to get going. But I think there’s a balance where you don’t cross the line.

“It’s important he does enough so he can be firing but also maybe not attract so much attention.”

Frank confirmed midfielder Josh Dasilva will undergo surgery on a knee injury sustained in training and will be out for a significant period.

“I feel for Josh massively,” he said. “He has been very unlucky and he’s a player I’ve been working with for a long time, so our relationship has grown.

“He’s a lovely person so it’s tough to take. We will give him the best support”

Brentford are expecting to sell Ivan Toney this summer – manager Thomas Frank has revealed.

Toney was linked with a January move away from west London but Frank insisted no bids were received for the England striker.

The 27-year-old has recently returned to action after an eight-month ban for breaching Football Association gambling guidelines.

Frank had maintained throughout January that Toney, who made his England debut in 2023 and has hit 34 goals in 71 Premier League appearances, would stay put.

But now he seems to be bracing to lose one of his key men at the end of the season.

“It is relatively obvious that Ivan Toney will probably be sold this summer,” Frank told Danish magazine Tipsbladet.

“It can be ‘expensive’ to sell your best player, but conversely I also know that this summer he only has one year left on his contract with us.

“We also know what he is worth. I don’t think there are many strikers in the world who are better than him right now.”

Asked on transfer deadline day whether keeping Toney in January proved Brentford have grown as a club, Frank said: “I think with any player we have a contract in general so at the end of the day we decide if they leave or not.

“Of course money talks and we also know that we are a ‘selling’ club as you could call it – we know that is part of the strategy.”

Frank doubled down on that outlook in his Tipsbladet interview, adding: “I would prefer to keep Toney but one day it could be fun to see him in a top team.

“This winter, we actually had no bids for him, but it would surprise me if there aren’t a lot of clubs interested in him.”

Meanwhile, Brentford also confirmed Josh Dasilva has suffered another serious injury setback.

The 25-year-old has struggled with a number of issues in recent seasons and will now go back under the knife.

“Unfortunately, Josh suffered an injury in training over the weekend, while preparing for the Man City game,” head of medical Neil Greig told the club’s official website.

“Subsequent imaging has shown a significant injury to ligaments in his right knee, which will require surgery to repair.

“He’s previously shown an outstanding attitude to adversity and injury recovery, and we have absolute confidence in his capability to fully recovery from this setback.”

Brentford have condemned the “vile harassment” of Ivan Toney after the England striker was the target of online racist abuse.

The Premier League club also labelled the response of social media companies to such incidents as “underwhelming”.

Toney, 27, has previously received racist comments on Instagram posts and Brentford are now calling for more to be done after another case occurred.

“We are angered and frustrated to report that Ivan Toney has been subjected to racist abuse on Instagram once more,” a club statement read.

“We have initiated investigations into this vile harassment which we condemn in the strongest terms.

“Sadly, this isn’t the first time Ivan has had to deal with this. A similar incident occurred just four weeks ago, leading us to identify an alleged perpetrator whom we reported to the authorities. To date, we have yet to see any action taken against that individual.”

The Bees called for anyone found to have posted racist comments to be prosecuted and help bring an end to such incidents in the future.

“In general, the response from social media platforms to these ongoing issues has been underwhelming,” the statement continued.

“Their solutions, such as filters to simply hide the abuse may safeguard the players, miss the mark entirely and do not discourage the offenders. Without real consequences for those responsible, the cycle is doomed to repeat.

“We do have faith that things can change. We appreciate the dialogue that we have with the likes of Meta but we call for more decisive and urgent action to combat online hate. We call for prompt investigations, and importantly, we call for criminal prosecutions.

“We will continue to work with the authorities and the Premier League and to support our players as we tackle this awful online abuse.”

Phil Foden believes the Premier League title race will go to the wire this season.

The England midfielder scored a hat-trick in Manchester City’s 3-1 win at Brentford on Monday night.

It was a potentially pivotal victory which lifted City above Arsenal into second place, two points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.

“It’s going to be tight one. Liverpool and Arsenal are two top teams doing really well,” said Foden.

“They are going to push us until the end so we have to try and not drop points and try to win all of our games really.”

City fell behind against the run of play when Neal Maupay fired Brentford into the lead.

But Foden finally beat inspired Bees goalkeeper Mark Flekken to haul his side level before the interval.

The 23-year-old headed them in front early in the second half from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross, and then completed a stylish treble to ensure City’s title destiny is firmly in their own hands.

The treble winners also trailed in away matches against Everton and Newcastle recently, but Foden says they are beginning to show their mettle by coming back to win each time.

“Resilience. We keep proving it season after season,” he told the club website.

“We keep surprising everyone by keeping our standards high and it’s down to the manager and this fantastic group of players.

“It’s the togetherness, when things aren’t going right, to bounce back.”

Nerves are starting to jangle at Brentford, who have lost seven of their last eight matches and lie just three points above the relegation zone.

The fixture list does not offer much respite with City – again – Liverpool and Arsenal all on the schedule in the next few weeks.

But boss Thomas Frank is looking no further ahead than Saturday’s trip to Wolves.

“I’m always looking just one game ahead; that’s where our maximum focus is,” he said.

“It’s the same top focus on the next game. Every game we will have a very good chance to win it and that will be the same on Saturday.”

Pep Guardiola refused to discuss an angry bust-up between Kyle Walker and Brentford’s Neal Maupay after Manchester City’s 3-1 win in west London.

The England defender blew his top at something Maupay said to him in the closing stages and had to be calmed down by his manager.

City skipper Walker had been subjected to taunts about his personal life from the home fans throughout the match.

Guardiola had a long conversation with French striker Maupay after the final whistle but when quizzed about the incident afterwards, Guardiola simply snapped: “Next question!”

Guardiola was happier talking about hat-trick hero Phil Foden after the victory in west London which, coupled with Arsenal’s win over Liverpool on Sunday, left City two points behind the Reds with a game in hand.

Brentford were the only team to beat City home and away last season, and the ‘three-peat’ looked on when Maupay fired them into the lead.

But Foden finally beat inspired Bees keeper Mark Flekken to haul City level before the interval.

The England midfielder headed them in front early in the second half from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross, and then completed a stylish treble to leave the visitors with their title destiny firmly in their own hands.

“I said weeks ago that Phil is having his most influence on the team,” said Guardiola.

“He’s reading the game really well, how he can play simple and be more aggressive.

“He always has the pleasure to score goals and the threat when he is close to the 18-yard box. He is an exceptional player. A short age, already more than 250 games for City. That means the influence since he arrived.

“He loves to play football and still when you see players in the street when you are a little boy he still has this sense of amateur culture. He loves to play and this season he has been so important for us.

“In terms of how he moves in small spaces. I’ve seen many really good players but the impact from Phil when he gets the ball there, he can score.

“The feeling that he can shoot or make an assist, it’s difficult to find this combination to move in the pockets and after be like a knife and be so aggressive and score goals.”

The Bees went ahead in the 21st minute with a goal straight out of the Brentford playbook.

Flekken actually claimed the assist, punting his goal kick towards Ivan Toney, who backed into Nathan Ake, easing the defender out of the flight path while letting the ball bounce past.

Maupay was left free to race clean through, coolly finishing past Ederson for his fifth goal since the turn of the year.

“We know we have a strength there with Ivan,” said boss Thomas Frank.

“We don’t do it all the time but against a team that is pressing it can be effective. Credit to Mark, Ivan and Neal, they worked it out themselves.

“It was an OK team we were facing, I must say! A good performance from us. We do a lot of things right.”

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City are coming up against an “exceptional player” in Ivan Toney as they travel to Brentford on Monday.

Toney, who scored twice when the Bees won at the Etihad Stadium last season, recently returned to action after serving an eight-month ban for breaching betting regulations.

The 27-year-old forward has struck in both appearances since completing his suspension and Guardiola is pleased to see such talent back on the field.

The City manager said: “He’s an exceptional player. Not just with the long balls, with keeping (the ball) and set-pieces, with the penalties as a guarantee.

“For many things they can link with him and he’s an extraordinary player.

“I’m so happy he is back and hopefully that period is forgotten in his life and for his family. Exceptional players always are more than welcome in the Premier League.”

Brentford beat champions City home and away in the Premier League last season.

The Toney-inspired first of those victories came in the final game before the World Cup break, as City endured an indifferent spell in the autumn.

The second, at the Gtech Community Stadium, was on the last day of the campaign as City, having already wrapped up the title, were preparing for the FA Cup and Champions League finals.

Nevertheless, Guardiola sees them as a serious threat as City look to maintain their recent momentum after eight successive wins.

He said: “We know in the past how difficult they have been. Even when we won it was always tight and we lost the two games we played last season.

“So we know the difficulty for the way they play, the standards that they have. They are clear and they believe it and they apply really well.

“It’s another game to face, a new challenge.”

City have a full-strength squad available with defender Manuel Akanji back in contention after a knee injury.

Erling Haaland could make his first start in two months after returning from a foot problem as a substitute against Burnley in midweek.

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank says that Ivan Toney will not be leaving the Bees on transfer deadline day.

England striker Toney has been linked with Premier League rivals such as Arsenal and Chelsea in the January window.

The 27-year-old has scored 34 goals in 68 top-flight games for Brentford and Frank insists Toney will stay put after a month of speculation.

“This will be breaking news, OK – but Ivan will stay,” Frank said at his press conference previewing Monday’s clash with Manchester City.

Elsewhere, there were few big early moves from top-flight clubs – although Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and Newcastle all completed deals to strengthen their squads.

Forest signed 18-year-old striker Rodrigo Ribeiro on loan from Sporting Lisbon until the end of the season, while Morgan Rogers swapped Middlesbrough for Villa Park in a reported £8million switch and Newcastle brought in teenage midfielder Alfie Harrison from Manchester City.

Brighton midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud has, meanwhile, joined Stuttgart on loan. More transfers are expected to be completed ahead of the 11pm deadline, with Pablo Fornals expected to leave West Ham to join Real Betis.

But Brentford head coach Thomas Frank has said there is no chance Ivan Toney will make a late deadline day move away from the club.

Ribeiro came through the ranks in Lisbon and made his professional debut for the club as a late substitute in a Champions League tie against Manchester City in March 2022.

The 18-year-old’s move to Forest could become permanent. He told the club’s YouTube channel: “It is a great opportunity for me.

“It is the best league in the world. For me, it is a dream to play in this league and for this club.

“I promise to work every day and to keep going with the work and help the team.”

Rogers, 21, signed for Boro last summer and scored seven goals this season, including against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-final.

Villa also later announced the signing of England Under-19 international Lino Sousa from Arsenal, who is set to immediately join up with Plymouth on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

Newcastle also made a move for the future with the signing of 18-year-old Manchester City midfielder Harrison for an undisclosed fee.

“The size of the club and what it has got going for it is massive for me,” Harrison told Newcastle’s website.

“It has got a huge, passionate fanbase and I’m looking to really push on with my career now.”

In the Sky Bet Championship, midfielder Alex Pritchard completed his move from Sunderland to Birmingham for an undisclosed fee.

The 30-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract to reunite with former Black Cats boss Tony Mowbray.

“I am happy,” Pritchard told BluesTV.

“My future has been well speculated for a while now and I am just glad to get everything done and just settled and, hopefully, I can just crack on with football.”

Sunderland reacted quickly to fill the gap in their squad, signing winger Romaine Mundle from Standard Liege for an undisclosed fee.

The 20-year-old former Tottenham player has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract at the Stadium of Light.

Hull have been one of the most active Championship clubs on deadline day, with midfielder Abdulkadir Omur joining from Trabzonspor.

Turkish international Omur has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal after he joined for an undisclosed fee, while Dogukan Sinik has been allowed to make a loan move to Hatayspor.

“The fans will love watching him (Omur),” Hull boss Liam Rosenior said on the club website.

“He is someone who can unlock the door, create and score goals, and has a great final pass and shot.

“He is an outstanding technical footballer who can go past players, has a low centre of gravity and works hard out of possession. I love his football personality.”

Swansea have brought in young forward Charles Sagoe Jr depart on a six-month loan from Arsenal.

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank believes refusing to sell Ivan Toney in January proves how far the club has come in recent years – but admits eventually “money talks” when it comes to holding on to his stars.

England striker Toney was reportedly a target for the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea during the transfer window.

The 27-year-old has recently returned to action for the Bees having served an eight-month ban after breaching Football Association gambling laws.

Toney has scored 34 goals in 68 top-flight games for the Bees and Frank insists the player will stay put after a month of speculation.

“This will be breaking news, OK – but Ivan will stay,” Frank said at his press conference previewing Monday’s clash with Manchester City.

Asked if he was happy that the window was closing just hours after his media duties would conclude, Frank replied: “Happy? Yes, but I was pretty sure as I said from the beginning that Ivan will stay with us so I was not worried about that.

“In general, it is nice to know what you are working with so in that situation, yes (I am happy).”

Despite rumours of a big-money move during the window, Frank and the club as a whole were steadfast throughout January that Toney would not be sold.

The former Newcastle forward is out of contract at the end of next season but Frank feels Brentford showed their strength in keeping hold of their sought-after striker, even if their transfer strategy dictates otherwise.

“Yes, I think with any player we have a contract in general so at the end of the day we decide if they leave or not,” he added when asked if rebuffing any interest in Toney showed the progress Brentford have made.

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“Of course money talks and we also know that we are a ‘selling’ club as you could call it – we know that is part of the strategy.

“We want to have young, talented players in, develop them and make them better. Be on a journey with us, improve and hopefully do some fantastic stuff in the league and maybe one day win something.

“But at the end of the day, after some years if they are good enough they will progress to the next level.”

James Maddison insists Tottenham can still do something special this season after he got the last laugh over Neal Maupay following a chaotic 3-2 home win over Brentford.

A fiery clash between the London rivals appeared to be sparked by Maupay mocking Maddison with his own darts celebration after he put the visitors ahead in the 15th minute.

Referee David Coote struggled to control both players in the first half, but Spurs regained focus after the break and scored three times in eight minutes through Destiny Udogie, Brennan Johnson and Richarlison.

It ensured Ivan Toney’s late strike was mere consolation and Maddison was happy to poke fun at Maupay during his post-match interview before the pair traded blows on Instagram.


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Maddison started the war of words with the caption “a short story” beneath three pictures – one of Maupay celebrating, one of Maddison with his arms aloft and one of the final score – before the Frenchman hit back, writing: “Went a bit early with that one. Gutted we couldn’t get the win. More goals and less relegations in my career than James Maddison. We go again Monday bees.”

Asked about Maupay, Maddison told TNT Sports: “I said to him, he probably hasn’t scored enough goals of his own in the last few years to have his own celebration, so he had to copy mine. A short story and it ended well for us.”

He added: “I feel really positive. We’ve had a very stop-start season with injuries and suspensions. We started really well and had the same XI for 10 or 11 games in a row, which is very rare in the Premier League. That Chelsea game (which Spurs lost 4-1) was a crazy game.

“The main question I get asked is, ‘What’s the aim for Tottenham this year?’ I don’t think the gaffer wants to put a limit on it.

“There’s no ceiling because there’s more chance of something special happening. We’re three points behind second place, so let’s not put a ceiling on it. Let’s take it game by game.

“We could go on a run. If you don’t believe something special can happen, then nothing can ever happen.”

The Chelsea game was the match in which Maddison suffered ankle ligament damage, which ruled him out for the best part of three months.

Spurs lost four of their first five matches without him, but look well placed for a strong finish to the Premier League season.

Maddison said: “It’s lovely to be back. When you’re starved doing what you love, that reminded me why I love football.

“The first half was stop-start, a lot of stoppages, which is how they have been successful.

“Second half we created a lot of chances, scored some goals, but it’s never simple – there’s always a lot of goals at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.”


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Brentford were able to leave north London with plenty of positives, with Toney on target again in his second match since he returned from a betting ban.

Toney scored under the watchful eye of England boss Gareth Southgate and has been backed to get even better.

“He has been working very hard to come back to the level,” Bees boss Thomas Frank said.

“The first game he played 90 plus 15 against Nottingham (Forest) and today also. Hopefully with a little bit more rhythm, he will come even sharper, but it is five or 10 per cent maximum.

“I think his touches look good and he is a threat.”

James Maddison and Neal Maupay were embroiled in a war of words after the Brentford forward mocked the Tottenham midfielder’s goal celebration.

Maupay opened the scoring in the 15th minute at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday night and celebrated by throwing a dart alongside Ivan Toney, mimicking the move Maddison and Spurs team-mate Son Heung-min have done this season.

That annoyed big darts fan Maddison, who had a heated exchange with Maupay on the goalscorer’s way back to the centre circle.

The England international had the last laugh though, with goals from Destiny Udogie, Brennan Johnson and Richarlison securing a 3-2 win for Spurs.


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A post shared by James Maddison (@madders)


Maddison told TNT Sports: “He’s not scored enough goals of his own to have his own celebration so he’s copied mine.”

Maddison’s comments irked Maupay, who responded on Instagram after the game mocking his opponent’s relegation with Leicester last season.


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A post shared by Neal Maupay (@nealmaupay)


The Frenchman wrote: “Went a bit early with that one.

“Gutted we couldn’t get the win. More goals and less relegations in my career than James Maddison. We go again monday bees.”

Ange Postecoglou was pleased Tottenham regained their composure to storm back to earn a crucial 3-2 home win over Brentford but told both sets of players to enter the UFC ring if they want to focus on grappling over goals.

Spurs were sluggish in the first half and trailed to Neal Maupay’s 15th-minute opener, which saw him mock James Maddison’s darts celebration and appeared to be the catalyst for a fiery contest between the London rivals.

Whatever Postecoglou said at half-time did the trick though with Tottenham scoring twice in 72 seconds through Destiny Udogie and substitute Brennan Johnson before Richarlison made it three goals in eight second-half minutes when he steered home with 56 minutes on the clock.

Ivan Toney set up a grandstand finish when he pounced on Udogie’s error to score in front of England boss Gareth Southgate, but Spurs held on to leapfrog Aston Villa and reclaim fourth spot following a chaotic encounter.

Asked if Maupay’s darts celebration had fired up his team, Postecoglou replied: “I hope not because that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

“I’m not a fan of it. I don’t like the whole bravado, pushing people around. If you’re that brave about things, my players and their players, get into a UFC cage and I’ll see how brave they are.

“We’re out there to play football and that’s what I want our guys to do, focus on playing football and they shouldn’t get motivated by things that aren’t really that important to us.

“Like I said, we got sucked in first half. Second half was better.

“I think we started the game well, started with good intensity and good tempo, obviously they score and then we lost our way.

“We lost focus. I was a bit frustrated with our inability to stay disciplined, just too many stops and starts, it kind of plays into their hands, lots of set pieces and throw ins.

“We spent more time talking to the referee than playing the game. I was a bit frustrated we lost our real clear focus.

“Second half, I think for 25-30 minutes we were outstanding, scored three great goals and probably should have had a couple more.”

Spurs started on the front foot but were rocked when Udogie gave away possession to Christian Norgaard, who sent Toney away and while Guglielmo Vicario denied him, Maupay was on hand to bundle home and score for a fourth consecutive match.

Tottenham got sucked into Brentford’s game-plan after with the rest of the first 45 stop-start and containing plenty of melees, but a double substitution at the break inspired the hosts’ comeback with Johnson and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg introduced.

Udogie slotted home after a slick one-two with Werner, who then set up Johnson at the back post in the 49th-minute.

When Richarlison fired in for his seventh league goal in as many matches, after Maddison’s shot had been blocked, Spurs were on track for three points but another poor Udogie pass allowed Toney to tee up a dramatic finale in N17.

Maddison was forced off late on with cramp, but Postecoglou’s side survived seven minutes of stoppage-time to return to the top four.

Opposite number Thomas Frank stoked the fire further after full time when he questioned why Tottenham had allowed Maupay’s darts celebration to irritate them.

“If that’s what’s irritating them, then they have a problem,” Frank said.

“Is that fair enough? If they are talking about darts celebrations winding them up, then I think they have an issue, personally.”

On Postecoglou’s UFC suggestion, Frank added: “Yeah, I agree. Just in general concentrate on playing football.”

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