Belgium National Team

Late Genk show seals fourth cup triumph

Genk left it late but finally overcame spirited underdogs Cercle Brugge, thanks to goals from Bennard Kumordzi and captain Jelle Vossen. The 2-0 win was Racing’s fourth victory in four finals, though they were frustrated for 80 minutes by a team whose real fight lies in the relegation playoffs. Battling to stay in the Jupiler Pro League for a second time, the timing of the cup final couldn’t have come at a worse time for Cercle Brugge coach Lorenzo Staelens, indicating before the match that he would rest players if Genk were coasting it. He intended to field the same team that started against and won at Mouscron at the weekend. However Bernt Evens injured his achilles in the warmup, forcing a hasty reshuffle. Mario Been in comparison had the luxury of fielding his strongest XI in the search for silverware.

Racing were quickest out of the blocks, with captain Jelle Vossen at the heart of Genk’s attacks, setting up both Khalidou Koulibaly and strike-partner Benji De Ceulaer in the opening 10 minutes. French starlet (with stars in his hair no less) Steeven Joseph Monrose had fleeting moments in the first half, cutting in from the left but Bram Verbist was equal to all of his efforts. The difference between Foeke Booy’s Cercle side and Staelens was clear to see, as Cercle managed to get a foothold into the game. Late replacement Rudy showed great skill to slide past Koulibaly before firing wide. The Groen en Zwart always seemed one move away from creating something special, but for all their drive and determination, they were lacking that final bit of quality. Rudy, William Carvalho and gargantuan semi-final hero Michael Uchebo all combined well but were incapable of finishing the move.

As closely fought as the showpiece was, the first half lacked the lustre. The closest chance fell to the underdogs as Stef Wils strode up for a corner, heading just inches wide. You sensed that the longer the game went, the more it favoured the overwhelming favourites. De Ceulaer, clearly wanting to erase the memories of last year’s cup final red card with Lokeren looked dangerous in parts too, exposing Cercle’s right-hand side. Genk turned the screw after the interval, and De Ceulaer was at the centre of it, going to ground twice in the area and then handballing when things didn’t go his way.

Genk threw all but the kitchen sink at their opponents in the second half yet never really tested Verbist. Cercle defended resolutely throughout with several blocks. While Joseph Monrose was arguably Genk’s most dangerous player, he was comfortably their most wasteful, repeatedly shanking crosses. Been chose to replace him with impact sub Glynor Plet with ten minutes to go. His catalytic change appeared to have the desired effect, as Kumordzi rose highest to head home a whipped-in free-kick six minutes from time, sparking celebrations in the predominantly Genk crowd. Their victory was sealed just before the 90 minute mark, as Thomas Buffel smartly set up Vossen to dink it over the despairing Verbist. It was a hard-earned yet deserved victory for Genk, whose attention turns back to the playoffs now silverware has been won. For Staelens and Cercle, the fight to stay in the top flight can get back on course.

Back to Top