Swansea City’s Premier League dream was ended in crushing fashion as they were beaten 2-0 by Brentford in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.
The Swans endured a torrid start against the Bees and fell behind to an Ivan Toney penalty inside 10 minutes after Freddie Woodman had fouled the in-form striker.
Emiliano Marcondes doubled his side’s lead 10 minutes later from a rapid counter attack that started inside Brentford’s own box.
Steve Cooper’s troops pushed in the second half but were reduced to 10 men after Jay Fulton was shown a straight red card for a foul on Mathias Jensen.
And Thomas Frank’s side held on for victory to book their place in the top-flight while condemning the Swans to a fourth successive season in the Championship in the process.
Brentford stuck with the same XI that defeated Bournemouth 3-1 in the second leg of their semi-final triumph over the Cherries while Swansea’s sole change was enforced as Connor Roberts replaced the injured Wayne Routledge.
Kevin Johns delivered yet another stirring speech prior to kick-off in which he urged the Jack Army to believe as the sun shone brightly in the English capital.
And as both sets of players took up their positions on the pitch prior to kick-off, it became evident that Cooper has opted to revert to a back three which allowed Roberts and former Bees defender Jake Bidwell to operate as wing-backs.
In a typically tight opening, Matt Grimes picked up an early booking for a poor challenge on Sergi Canos that left the Brentford players furious.
And only 10 minutes in, the Swans left themselves with an uphill task as Woodman was penalised for bringing down Toney in the box.
The Championship’s top scorer dusted himself down before taking the spot-kick himself, and, despite diving the right way, Golden Glove winner Woodman was unable to get a hand to the forward’s shot as Frank’s men went 1-0 up.
Frank and several of his Brentford players had spoken about the pain of their final defeat to Fulham last season and how it could serve them well against the Swans.
The opening stages proved that the Bees were capable of handling themselves well on the big stage as Swansea desperately struggled to get a foothold in the game.
And the Welsh side found themselves two goals behind after a swift counter attack through Bryan Mbeumo on 20 minutes.
Mads Roerslev picked out Marcondes in acres of space as Swansea failed to get enough numbers back from their own attacking set play, and the Danish midfielder drilled a low shot beyond Woodman.
Cooper’s men were rattled as they watched their Premier League dream seemingly fade away – although they were thanking their lucky stars a minute after going 2-0 down as Toney’s drilled volley cannoned off the underside of Woodman’s crossbar.
David Raya remained a spectator and was able to enjoy the roars from the 5,000 Bees supporters behind him as the Londoners continued to boss the opening half.
Roberts shifted further up the right flank as the Swans desperately looked to carry some kind of attacking threat, and the tactical tweak ensured Cooper’s men got into more dangerous positions, although they couldn’t threaten Raya.
And after a decent spell, the Swans were very nearly the victims of their own downfall once again as Marc Guehi’s undercooked header to Woodman fell at the feet of Mbeumo who could only scuff his shot.
Swansea almost clawed a goal back on the stroke of half time as Conor Hourihane curled a free-kick on to the edge of Brentford’s six-yard box, but Andre Ayew’s header landed on top of the crossbar as the Swans trailed 2-0 at the interval.
Cooper’s side started the second half on the front foot and should have halved Brentford’s lead within two minutes of the restart as Roberts’ teasing cross bounced up nicely for top scorer Ayew who could only head wide from a central position around six yards out.
The Jack Army were buoyed by their side’s start to the second half though as Jamal Lowe curled an effort well over from just outside the box.
As the clock ticked on, the game slowly opened up which allowed Brentford to carry a threat on the counter attack – with Mbeumo drilling over just before the hour mark.
Lowe was then unable to test Raya from a tight angle after being picked out by Kyle Naughton.
Cooper knew he had to go for broke, and Liam Cullen replaced Naughton with 30 minutes left to play while Yan Dhanda came on for Hourihane soon after as Swansea desperately looked to find a route back into the contest.
But just as Swansea looked to throw caution to the wind, their already slim hopes were significantly dented as Fulton was sent off for a foul on Jensen.
Frank’s side made full use of their numerical advantage as they took the sting out of proceedings and kept possession for prolonged periods to ensure Swansea couldn’t get anywhere near Raya’s goal.
Marcondes couldn’t test Woodman with a free-kick from around 25 yards out before Bidwell blocked a shot from Toney late on.
Swansea had one final chance to pull a goal back, but substitute Dhanda drilled well over from the edge of the box.
And having suffered semi-final heartache in the play-offs last time around, the Swans were left to rue the damage of starting so poorly in the showpiece final as they will once again play in the Championship next term.
Swansea City have missed out on a place in the Premier League after defeat to Brentford. But we’ll still have all the reaction from Wembley for you.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson (Reid 78), Pinnock; Roerslev, Janelt (Ghoddos 73), Jensen, Emiliano (Bidstrup 90+2), Canos (Forss 73); Mbeumo, Toney.
Subs not used: Daniels, Goode, Nørgaard, Fosu, Stevens.
Goals: Toney 10, Marcondes 20
Yellow cards: Marcondes 21, Janelt 70
Swansea City: Woodman; Naughton (Cullen 60), Cabango, Guehi; Roberts, Grimes (C), Fulton, Hourihane (Dhanda 62), Bidwell (Manning 82); Ayew, Lowe.
Subs not used: Hamer, Freeman, Bennett, Latibeaudiere, Smith, Whittaker.
Yellow card: Grimes 6
Red card: Fulton 66
Referee: Chris Kavanagh