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With all but one top-flight successfully navigating their way into the last 16 of the cup midweek (OH Leuven messed up the perfect record), the focus returned to the league. Still, not one team fancies breaking away from the rest as the top 11 teams were separated by six points. However at the bottom, Sint-Truiden’s loss to fellow struggler Westerlo last week really piled the pressure on them and manager Franky Van Der Elst to find their first win against Gent. Lierse were the only other team not to taste success this season and are becoming bore draw specialists.
The big fixture on Saturday appeared to be Club Brugge hosting surprise package Mons at the Jan Breydel. With Jeremy Perbet in superb form, L’Albert weren’t to be underestimated by Adrie Koster’s side who were at the top of the table. With the two top scoring teams meeting, you were certainly guaranteed goals. Anyway, will someone finally take the iniative and build some form?
Last week was best forgotten for KV Mechelen. A 5-1 thumping away to Mons would need a sensational performance here to write the wrongs. Peter Maes also badly needed his Lokeren team to start winning and replicate the side that made Playoffs 1 last year. It was indeed the Tricolores who took the lead as Mechelen yet again fell behind to an early corner routine – Hamdi Harbaoui tracking back from the goalline to head home. That was the No.9′s first league goal since signing for the club. Set-plays continued to confuse Mechelen and Harbaoui was the most threatening in the air. Then a moment of madness as Tiko was booked for a poor tackle then pushed Sergio Oliviera to the ground to pick up another booking. Peter Maes would have been fuming as his side looked comfortable until this point.
Only through Mechelen’s ineptness in the second half did Lokeren escape with all the points. Time after time did KV fail to test Barry Copa in the goal. Low and behold, it was the away team who sealed the win after being ultra-defensive throughout the last 45 minutes. Laurens De Bock’s well placed shot found its way through Mechelen’s defenders and the stranded Renard. Only Lokeren’s second win of the season which could energise their season into life. For Mechelen, it’s three defeats on the spin and that early promise has been extinguished swiftly.
Club Brugge 2-1 Mons
The pressure was all on Club Brugge to avoid becoming another scalp for the impressive Mons. It was definitely a slow burner as the home team took a while to get going. With all the signings this summer for Club Brugge, it’s been the young defensive midfielder Vadis Odjidja who set pulses racing with a string of great performances. The 22-year old stung the palms of Cedric Berthelin, the rebound falling to Lior Refaelov who flashed it in front of goal. The Mons goalkeeper was getting stuck in, literally as he clattered into Bjorn Vleminckx then dusted himself off and kept out a Ryan Donk free-kick. Then the shocker as Zola Matumona made a fool of Carl Hoefkens and squared for Perbet to tap in. Somehow Mons led at half-time.
Mons and Berthelin did exceptionally to keep out Club Brugge for as long as they did but the goal was imminent. In-form (and less irritating this season) Nabil Dirar put in a teasing ball for Vleminckx to dive for. No chance for Mons. The turnaround was completed by the 69th minute as Odjidja notched another goal for his tally. Fair play to Mons for never giving up and giving Club Brugge a big scare. Blauwzwart stayed top of the pile for now.
You have to feel for Franky Van Der Elst. Thrust into a thankless task of stabilising the STVV ship and this was the cruellest way to lose. Goals seems to be flowing on the Stayen artificial turf and the home team settled quickest on their unusual surface. Gregory Dufer smashing it into the roof of the net. Their lead was doubled on 37′ minutes, the instrumental Reza Ghoochannejhad using the right flank to great effect. Gent were unbelievably poor in the first period and STVV capitalised on their sluggish play.
Yet, Trond Sollied rallied the troops at the break getting an early lifeline as Jesper Jørgensen got a goal back for Gent. The equaliser came 10 minutes later as Sandro Kotysch was the unfortunate man putting it into his own net. The tide was turning in favour of the away team but then Bernd Thijs handballed gifting Sint-Truiden a penalty. Reza just did enough to make it 3-2. You sensed they wouldn’t keep their lead and it was proved right as Christian Bruls equalised with 20 minutes for someone to find a dramatic winner.
It didn’t get more dramatic than this though. Bram Castro pounced upon Yaya Soumaharo and the referee pointed to the spot and sentoff the keeper. Did I mention this was in the 93rd minute? On comes the rusty Davino Verhulst to try and Grobelaar his way out of it. To no avail as Thijs scored. The cruellest of cruel defeats for STVV, another 4-3 defeat at home. You wonder what else Van Der Elst can do? Apart from try and tell his team to defend.
Thankfully, this game allows for a breather after that whirlwind. Rubbish game, although I do like those banners of the Essevee players. Kortrijk really should have won it, mainly as Sammy Bossut went walkabout allowing Mustapha Oussalah an open goal. Which he put onto the post. Rémi Maréval got the winner with a glancing header and Zulte Waregem’s poor form has finally turned around. Kortrijk continue to fail to impress.
You’d be forgiven for suggesting that Racing were focusing on their trip to the BayArena on Wednesday but this was another disappointing performance and two points dropped for Genk. OHL withstood early pressure from Genk in their cherry red kit (which they should never wear as they never play well in it) but Leuven had the best chance as Bjorn Ruytinx slammed his shot against the woodwork. But right before the break, OHL gave Jelle Vossen time deep in the centre of the pitch, and his effort was well placed into the corner.
Elyaniv Barda was sent-off for a terrible two-footed lunge and OH Leuven smelled cherry red blood in the water. Very uncharacteristic of the Israeli but at speed, you can see why the referee sent him off. Koen Wuets was unlucky with a screamer on the left which hit the bar but it wasn’t long before OHL scorer. A simple near-post corner to Nicky Hayen and it was 1-1. Genk will need to be much better in Leverkusen this week than this feeble showing.
With only ten goals scored between the two of them so far this season, you may as well not have bothered watching this game. But wait, it wasn’t actually that bad. Lierse threatened the most in the first half, with home advantage. Milos Maric clipped in a fantastic ball to Kenny Thompson, whose cracking volley was well stopped by Bart Deelkens. The Serbian’s delivery deserved better finishing as Lierse hit the bar twice. Deelkens was in top form, denying El Gabbas tipping his looping header over the bar. Still, Westerlo had a chance to take the lead, Shlomi Arbietman fluffing up a glorious chance with the goal gaping. The main problem with the Israeli striker is that he will score goals but do this as well.
Westerlo chose to be slightly more adventurous in the second half, as Kawashima pulled off a point blank save from Dekelver. He was called upon again pushing Wouter Corstjens header onto the post, somehow scrambling it away from the goal. How much he knew about it, I don’t know. Anyway, point apiece, no goals, as expected.
With Club Brugge winning the day before, Anderlecht need to replicate that result to stay in touch, in the battle of the purple teams. There was some intrigue in this fixture too as Hernan Losada would play against his former team. Stijn Stijnen was brought into action from the off, providing cat-like reflex saves. Anderlecht went in front, without really trying hard, as Lucas Biglia’s deep free-kick found the head of Hungarian Roli Juhasz. The lead was doubled minutes later, as Biglia’s set-piece magic bamboozled Beerschot further: Guillaume Gillet’s header on target.
Les Mauves looked to be coasting to a rudimentary home win, as Biglia set the tempo in midfield and the team looked on song. Yet Beerschot were much better in the second 45 and got a goal back through Roni Porokara – Olivier Deschacht to blame for being horrendously out of position. Beerschot were handed a massive lifeline in a game that looked all over as Kouyate hacked down Porokara. Up steps Losada to shoot down his old club, arms aloft by the away support. He was a little too hasty with his celebrating, getting booked in the process. Ultimately, a very bad move as he was sent off a minute later for a rough challenge on Sacha Kljestan. Then he gestured that the referee was bribed – possible grounds for retrospective punishment.
Whilst this was going on, Dieumerci Mbokani and Ronald Vargas made their league debuts as Anderlecht searched for a winner. They combined well but the goal came from Gillet getting the final touch as a header came off the post. Better late than never, Anderlecht jump up to second a point behind Club Brugge
This game was bizarre. How Standard didn’t win, I don’t know. Complete domination pretty much from start to finish, although Cercle did well defensively and looked dangerous on the break, through Portuguese duo Rudy and Amido Balde. The first half was devoid of much goalmouth action, Jelle Van Damme testing Bram Verbist the most.
The second half was slightly more interesting as Standard went on the offensive further, but the game descended into niggly fouling. Both teams should have had penalties before Verbist gifted Standard the chance to take the lead as he was caught in possession by Mémé Tchité. His shot was cleared off the line by Gregory Mertens’ hand, sending him to the locker room early. Penalty to Standard then, which Franck Berrier put right into the corner. Verbist redeemed himself with a fantastic save.
Standard just couldn’t buy a goal, through superb backs against the wall defending or by wasteful play. An excellent result for Bob Peeters defying the odds. In fact Cercle could have won it as Igor Vetokele missed a one-on-one chance at the death. More lost ground for Standard.