A hat-trick from Ivan Toney saw Brentford claim a vital 3-1 win at basement club Norwich on the day Christian Eriksen took another positive step in his remarkable recovery.
The Denmark international played the whole match for the Bees and had a hand in the first two goals, almost nine months on from his cardiac arrest during Euro 2020 last summer.
It was Eriksen’s corner which helped set up Toney’s opener before a second set-piece forced a penalty early in the second half when Ben Gibson caught Pontus Jansson with a high foot.
Gibson’s misery was compounded soon after when he committed another foul inside the area and hat-trick hero Toney completed his treble.
Teemu Pukki hit a late consolation but Thomas Frank got the better of old boss Dean Smith, who could feel Norwich’s Premier League survival battle is almost over.
All eyes were on the team news at Carrow Road and with it came confirmation Eriksen made his first competitive start since June 12, when he collapsed playing for Denmark against Finland.
A show of solidarity occurred before kick-off with placards held up to display the Ukraine flag and the home fans should have been off their seats again two minutes later.
Milot Rashica was played through but was denied by David Raya before Chelsea loanee Billy Gilmour fired over the rebound.
Brentford regrouped with full debutant Eriksen heavily involved, setting up two chances for Bryan Mbeumo as the frantic nature of the battle between the two promoted sides calmed down.
It was the hosts who appeared to have the momentum when Pukki saw a low shot saved by Raya with Josh Sargent off target on the turn soon after.
The visitors’ moment was to come, though, with Tim Krul tested sufficiently for the first time just past the half an hour mark when Sergi Canos had a snap-shot tipped behind by the Dutchman for a corner.
It gave Eriksen a chance to display his dead-ball prowess and the Brentford set-piece routine worked a treat to force the opener.
Kristoffer Ajer flicked on Eriksen’s near-post corner and Toney was at the back post to volley home.
Norwich tried to hit back but the only other moment of note prior to the break saw Eriksen booked for a cynical foul on Brandon Williams that ended with the defender initial furious before the pair hugged laying on the floor.
It highlighted the former Tottenham player’s willingness to get stuck in and perhaps the hesitation of opponents to do the same on him.
After Norwich were booed off at half-time, they wanted a penalty early into the second period but Mbuemo’s coming together with Williams was deemed accidental before the visitors won a spot-kick.
Eriksen’s corner was headed on by Jansson, who went down after Gibson had caught him with a high boot. VAR told referee Anthony Taylor, who had been the official at Parken Stadium last June, to use the pitchside monitor and he pointed to the spot.
Toney calmly slotted into the bottom left corner to double Bees’ advantage in the 52nd minute and was able to repeat the trick six minutes later.
Gibson was again the guilty party, bringing down the forward and Toney fired into exactly the same spot to complete his hat-trick and net for the 11th time this season.
VAR denied Norwich’s Rashica in the 67th minute and Mbeumo suffered a similar fate soon after with both efforts ruled out for offside before Pukki did reduced the deficit with a stoppage-time volley.
It was Brentford’s day, though, with a first league win in nine attempts enough to move them six points clear of the relegation zone.