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The season is properly in swing now and with the unbeaten European representatives all playing on Sunday, the fixtures man threw out some intriguing match-ups. And we’re talking box-office here, not some made-up hype that a certain broadcaster is liable to do on the day of rest. No rest here. Anderlecht travelled to Trond Sollied’s Gent in the opener of the triple bill, then the fierce rivalry between Genk and Standard was reignited (in more ways than one) and to finish, Lokeren hosted Club Brugge. Tasty. Saturday wasn’t bad either as the bottom two faced off in a crucial tie and the mid-table teams all looked to assert themselves in winnable fixtures. By the end of it, we were left with more questions than answers…
Only one place to start really. Little separated these teams before the game but this was soon to change. Mons’ exceptional pace on the break was the main sticking point for Mechelen as Jérémy Perbet converted the scraps for the opener. KV got a deserved equaliser on 33 minutes, Abdul Iddi punishing Mons for sloppy possession and powering home. Strangely this rekindled the fire for Les Dragons as Rachid Bourabia’s great header put them back in the lead. Mechelen seemed oblivious to the same free-kick routine from Thomas Matthys throughout the game and Perbet broke free of his marker to score his second. The hat-trick was coming and Perbet completed it in the 86th minute, holding off Maxime Biset and placing it into the corner. Bourabia got his deserved brace in injury time and Mons had completed the result of the season so far. Allez L’Albert.
Crunch-time for the Belgian and Club Brugge legends. Both Jan Ceulemans’ Westerlo and Franky Van Der Elst’s STVV were marooned on a solitary point after six games of the season. Friendships would have to fall by the wayside here. A tentative affair was very evenly matched early on, until Westerlo had to replace Najib Annab and this gave De Kanaries the advantage – testing Bart Deelkens repeatedly. Fortunately for him, it was the debuting Davino Verhulst who had the night to forget. First, he failed to deal with a rudimentary cross gifting Gent loanee Shlomi Arbitman with the opener. Lightning struck twice as the former Genk keeper flapped at a corner and Arbitman had his and Westerlo’s second. Perhaps he was a secret agent from their rivals or just a out of practice keeper? Westerlo finally off the mark this season and more turmoil for Sint Truiden. Can Van Der Elst turn it round? This was the ideal fixture for him to kickstart his reign but starting Verhulst, who had no game time at Genk was a mistake with hindsight.
Another of the surprise packages this season had a seemingly easy fixture against draw speciallists Lierse. But football is a funny game (CLICHE ALERT). Eiji Kawashima had a blinder for the away team in a fairly dull encounter. Neither team gave enough to win the game although Bob Peeters will be seething with his team not capitalising on Gonzague Vandooren’s red card, who was in a petty war with Kevin Janssens. Then again, there were some awful tackling on show from both teams. Two points dropped for Cercle as they couldn’t score against ten man Lierse in the second half.
A meeting of the also-rans burst into life as Mustapha Oussalah fired in the first goal for Kortrijk in four minutes, Yves Lenaerts had no chance of stopping the shot as it rattled off the post. It was probably a cross but I won’t deny the Moroccan. KVK killed off the game fairly quickly as Brecht Capon broke the flimsy OH Leuven offside trap to double their money. It could have been offside but once again, I shall give the benefit of the doubt. Not much else happened except from Mohamed Moussoudi’s foolish elbow on Maxime Annys. Hopefully he will be punished by the FA for it. Kortrijk’s form is still shaky but they are safely mid-table as are OH Leuven.
See carbon copy of previous game, a routine home win. Beerschot were inexcusably not given a penalty for a blatant tug on Ibra Sidibe early on. Not that he cared much, Guillaume Francois provided a killer ball for him to head home and score his third of the season. Essevee don’t look the same team away from the Regenboogenstadion and rarely threatened the opposition’s goal. Sidibe was denied more penalties by referee Luc Wouters but then Steve Colpaert was sent off for a professional foul. Beerschot finally sealed their first win in four as the impressive Francois was unmarked in the area and had plenty of time to slot home.
The first of the big Sunday fixtures and it was Les Mauves who dominated the early going, with the rejuventated Suarez attempting to lob the keeper in the first minute of the game. Anderlecht were given a penalty after Skarabot’s stupidity in the box. Suarez finished it at the second time of asking as Bojan Jorgacevic flapped at the first attempt. The freedom shown against AEK Athens was in full flow here and Anderlecht should have had a bigger lead. Gent did have half-chances though.
The other half was a bit more even, yet Gent still weren’t creating great opportunities. Yassine El Ghanassy looked jaded and his delivery was awful. Anderlecht’s fast start evaporated as the Europa League exertion took its toll and Silvio Proto was in top form once again. Even the former captain Lucas Biglia (Deschact got the armband back for this game) helped keep Gent out, clearing off the line. Not a classic win for Anderlecht but a vital one at that against one of their title rivals.
Round 2 of Super Sunday was built up to be something sensational – a passionate rivalry between last year’s top two. Both were coming off excellent draws in European competition but crucially Genk had two more days to prepare and the opportunity to shuffle the pack slightly. They looked to have made the perfect start as Elyaniv Barda headed past Sinan Bolat only for the assistant to raise his flag. This drew the ire of the Genkies home support as they began chanting ‘Les Walloons, c’est du caca (meaning The French speakers are shit basically) and Jérôme Efong Nzolo called a halt to proceedings, mainly to be in line with the clampdown against racist chanting. To avoid a massive debate here, the hostilities between the Flemish and Walloon regions isn’t exactly a new thing. Still, with previous chanting being an issue, I don’t fault the referee for doing it to calm down a pretty rabid crowd, who showed their other side from the brilliant atmosphere against Valencia.
Once play resumed, Genk were in full control. Barda opened the scoring again after giving Daniel Opare the slip and lifting the ball high above Bolat. Cue rubbish somersault. Standard had little to offer but Luis Seijas just headed wide after the interval. Not even the introduction of Jelle Van Damme could turn the tide as Nadson snuck in untracked on a corner, an unlikely scorer. Jelle Vossen sealed the rout right at the end from Daniel Toszer’s pass, an markedly improved performance from that of midweek. Genk’s league campaign seems back on track as they jump above Jose Riga’s men, who were lacking drive and fitness.
The final meeting of last season’s top six on Super Sunday was probably the most intriguing of the lot. Club Brugge had the opportunity to go top with a win but weary legs could derail that bid against a fresh yet inconsistent Lokeren. Ibrahima Gueye volleyed just over at the start and Victor Vazquez cleared off the line from Benji de Ceulaer’s unorthodox overhead lob. Despite being exposed numerous times on the break, Club Brugge took the lead as Nabil Dirar danced through the defence wonderfully, scoring in consecutive games. De Tricolores weren’t behind for long as De Ceulaer brilliantly flicked the ball over the despairing Michael Almeback and volleying past Colin Coosemans. A tremendously good goal. Probably the goal of the weekend in Europe actually.
In fact, Lokeren looked most likely to win as Club tired immensely but then De Ceulaer was sent to the dressing room for a rough challenge on Dirar. From the replays it looked harsh but given Dirar’s speedy fall, the referee was easily decieved, a possible yellow either way. The emphasis switched round but Club only made the breakthrough nine minutes from time, thanks to the returning Bjorn Vleminckx finally breaking his goal duct with a thumping header from Dirar’s cross. Adrie Koster’s men were going back to top spot, just.
Tagged Anderlecht, Beerschot, Cercle Brugge, Club Brugge, Elyaniv Barda, Genk, Gent, Jérôme Efong Nzolo, Jose Riga, Kortrijk, Lierse, Lokeren, Mechelen, Mons, OH Leuven, Sint-Truiden, Standard Liège, STVV, Westerlo, Zulte Waregem