Mikkel Damsgaard went into Brentford's English League Cup match on Tuesday on a high after being called up to play at a World Cup for the first time.
The Denmark playmaker was brought back down to earth.
The 22-year-old Damsgaard struck what proved to be the decisive spot kick against the crossbar as Brentford lost 6-5 to fourth-tier Gillingham in a penalty shootout in the third round.
It was the only major upset on a night when Leicester continued its upturn in form to advance along with Bournemouth, which dispatched Everton 4-1 in an all-Premier League matchup.
Damsgaard, who impressed for Denmark at the European Championship last year as a replacement for Christian Eriksen following his cardiac arrest, received his call-up for the World Cup in Qatar on Monday night.
A day later, he showed off his talents with a neat touch and pass for Ivan Toney to open the scoring in the third minute for Brentford, which proceeded to dominate the game but failed to put away its chances.
Gillingham, which — at third-to-last place in League Two — is 77 places below Brentford in the English soccer pyramid, scored with its only attempt at goal in the match through Mikael Mandron in the 75th to take it to penalties.
After the first 11 attempts were converted, Damsgaard missed and Gillingham reached the last 16 for only the second time in its history.
Toney sent a message to England coach Gareth Southgate — and maybe some of his own detractors, too — with his ninth goal of the season, which he celebrated by sticking a finger in each of his ears.
The striker took to social media at the weekend to say he is helping the English Football Association with an investigation. That came after a report in British newspaper The Sun said he was the subject of an inquiry over allegations of match betting relating to a period before he joined Brentford.
Brentford acknowledged it was aware of the story but wouldn’t comment further.
In his Twitter post, Toney described himself as “proud Englishman” who dreamed as a child of playing for his country at a World Cup. He is among a slew of strikers looking to make Southgate’s 26-man squad — which will be announced on Thursday — as a backup to captain Harry Kane, and his cup goal was one last nudge to the England coach.
Toney was called up by England for the first time ahead of Nations League games against Italy and Germany in September but didn’t play a minute in either game.
In-form James Justin seemed to have moved into a position to act as injury cover for both full-back positions in England's World Cup squad.
Maybe not anymore.
Justin was carried off in the second half of Leicester's 3-0 win over Newport County following an innocuous challenge. The World Cup begins in 12 days.
Justin had scored the opener against Newport, the fourth-tier team which beat Leicester in the FA Cup in 2019 to help bring to an end Claude Puel’s reign and usher in Brendan Rodgers' ongoing tenure at the club.
Jamie Vardy, something of a forgotten man at Leicester, added the other two goals.
Everton's form has dipped as English club soccer heads for a six-week pause for the World Cup.
With the heavy loss at Bournemouth, Everton has won just one of its last seven games in all competitions to bring some pressure on manager Frank Lampard, whose team in in fifth-to-last place in the Premier League.
Lampard fielded a virtual reserve team and paid the price as Jamal Lowe’s deflected shot and Junior Stanislas' close-range finish put Bournemouth 2-0 ahead.
Demarai Gray reduced the deficit before late goals by Emiliano Marcondes and Jaidon Anthony for the hosts.
The third round continues on Wednesday, when Liverpool begins its title defense with a home game against third-tier Derby County and Manchester City hosts Chelsea in the marquee match of the round.
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Steve Douglas, The Associated Press