OH Leuven 1-1 RSC Anderlecht
John van den Brom made no bones about prioritising Tuesday’s must-win Champions League play-off tie against AEL. He left out the likes of Mbokani, Proto, Gillet and Biglia. Juhász Roland partnered Osama Hawsawi in central defence and it must be said that the Saudi acquitted himself much better than expected on debut. The champions took the lead after ten minutes. The confident Canesin Matos broke down the right and found Jovanovic, who kept his cool to play in his stand-in this Tuesday Sacha Iakovenko and the Ukrainian stroked the ball home. OHL equalised just after the half-hour through the outstanding Ibou. He received a deflected shot and with Odoi not tight enough, drove into the box and shot past Kaminski. It was a shame when Ibou went off in the second half as he gave Anderlecht all kinds of trouble. As it happened, Anderlecht did well to get away with a draw though given the much-altered nature of their side, it’s not the worst result faced with a side they have a poor record against. They have bigger fish to fry. There must be no mistakes, no excuses and no sob-stories against AEL.
Cercle Brugge 0-3 Lierse
The first half is the worst 45 minutes I have seen this season, possibly ever so the less said about it, the better. After the break, Lierse went up a gear against a beleaguered Cercle, who were not aided by the sale of Igor Vetokele and a sparse home crowd. Rachid Bourabia opened the scoring on 55 minutes with a well-placed shot high into the net. This took place while Stef Wils was receiving treatment off the pitch following a foul from Soufiane Bidaoui. It all fell apart for the home side when Kevin Janssens was rightly handed a straight red card against his old club shortly after coming off the bench. Dolly Menga, impressive since his move from Standard, took advantage of non-existent marking to score from eleven yards. Bourabia added a second in the closing stages with a neat dink over Bram Verbist. Lierse got their first win (and they’ve only been beaten once in five) while Cercle look to be in for a tough campaign even if they can keep hold of Rudy.
Beerschot 2-0 Charleroi
This match will be remembered more for some of the most farcical refereeing even by Belgian standards. Goran Galesic’s miskick somehow led to a Beerschot free-kick while Abraham Kumedor, who would receive a second yellow, was awarded his first for a “dive” after he’d been taken down inside the box. How it was not a clear penalty I will never know. As for the goals, Hernan Losada gave us another glimpse of his excellence at dead ball situations with a lovely free-kick beyond Parfait Mandanda and then Stijn Wuytens – who scored a beauty last week – was on the scoresheet once more. The ex-PSV man sealed the three points late on with another fierce left-footed strike into the top corner.
Kortrijk 2-1 Waasland-Beveren
De Kerels had been inconsistent in their first four games but they got three points on the board against newly-promoted Waasland-Beveren. Like fellow newcomers Charleroi, they are susceptible in the air and the defence stood like statues as Mitrovic timed his run right to head the opener home midway through the first-half. Nebojsa Pavlovic also headed home from a corner two minutes later as W-B were handed another harsh lesson at this level. It would however be remiss to write off Dirk Geeraerd’s men as total no-hopers. Alves Da Silva was denied by a superb “save” from Kortrik defender Ervin Zukanovic but he had his goal soon after stabbing home debutant Christophe Lepoint’s header down. Lepoint’s debut was to be bittersweet as the ex-Gent midfielder was then sent off. He was followed down the tunnel by Mitrovic and W-B had a goal from Ghadir ruled out due to a marginal offside decision.
Standard Liège 3-2 KV Mechelen
Certain critics could not wait to get stuck into Ron Jans but les Rouches have now won three on the bounce. After a scoreless first period in which Nacho (who’s a very good header of the ball – more so considering he’s a playmaker) hit the bar, Standard scored thrice in a profitable ten-minute spell. Yoni Buyens, scorer of a brace last week, scored at the second attempt, after his first – a backheel – had been blocked on its way to goal. Buyens, playing against his former side, was also involved in the second. His interception was picked up by Nacho and played forward without delay to Imoh Ezekiel. And once the ever-improving Nigerian took the ball in his stride, no-one was surprised when he lashed the ball home into the top corner. The third came in more controversial fashion. Goreux’s cross struck the elbow of Anthony van Loo, who neither made an attempt to play the ball nor had his arm away from his body. Nacho was not complaining though and he resumed penalty-taking duties to find the bottom corner. As it turned out, Standard needed that extra cushion. Cordaro and Mads Junker combined to bring Malinwa back into the game ; the Dane netting his first goal in Belgium from a header and it is only right to expect a fair few more. Deep into stoppage time, Thomas Enevoldsen caught Eiji Kawashima napping at his near post with a free-kick that proved to be too little, too late.
KAA Gent 2-1 Lokeren
When Jérémy Taravel put Lokeren ahead after 90 seconds, Gent fans must have feared the worst. When Rodgers Kola was sent off for a disgraceful high, two-footed challenge on Laurens De Bock, Gent fans must have expected it. It looked like a case of déjà vu – football is hard enough with eleven on the pitch! And yet what was so impressive was how the youngest player in Trond Sollied’s side proved to be the catalyst for the fightback – Hannes van der Bruggen. The 19-year old launched his side forward with a clever ball to Ibrahima Conté and when he got it back, he wormed his way in between two Lokeren defenders before being brought down by De Bock. Buffalo’s skipper Bernd Thijs marked his return to fitness by sending Copa the wrong way and scoring from the penalty spot. At times Trond Sollied’s men rode their luck – Patosi hit the bar and Arzo almost scored an own goal against the very same piece of “woodwork”. There was no such fortune though about the winner. A well-worked move down the left involving Conté and van der Bruggen led to Christian Brüls slotting the ball home with his left foot and scoring for the second successive week. Peter Maes was understandably unhappy at the manner of the defeat but after a tough start to the season, Gent are now sitting in the top six.
KRC Genk 2-0 Zulte Waregem
The surprise package of the season so far suffered their first reverse after five matches. Both goals came in the first-half as Mbaye Leye and Christian Benteke racked up a whole host of squandered opportunities and it was evident that Genk had not yet shaken off the mediocrity of their 2-1 Europa League defeat in Luzern. Worryingly for Mario Been, he lost his only established left-back when Derrick Tshimanga limped off after just sixteen minutes. The opening goal finally arrived in the 69th minute. Not for the first time, Steven Joseph-Monrose had acres of space to run into down the left. The French u21 international found Thomas Buffel at the back post, who helped the ball back for Julien Gorius to sweep home. The ex-Mechelen man has a knack of scoring from midfield and his intervention was most welcome as Genk look to kickstart their league campaign. Just a minute later, Genk doubled their lead when Vossen stuck the ball high into the net after good, quick link-up play from Khaleem Hyland and Benteke, who would then proceed to miss even more chances. Francky Dury will not be too concerned at the defeat but it was much-needed medicine for the hosts, who now have the Benteke transfer saga to deal with.
Mons 1-3 Club Brugge
If it has not been Milan Jovanovic’s week, nor has it been Jérémy Sapina’s. The hapless centre-back was sent off for a professional foul for the second game running. Even if it didn’t take much to send Meme Tchité down, it was enough. Yet it took the title chasers until the hour mark to open the scoring as Tchité atoned for his earlier profligacy. Racing onto a ball from the vibrant Victor Vázquez, he chipped the ball over Olivier Werner for his first league goal since leaving Standard. Mons equalised in controversial circumstances when a penalty was awarded after Aloys Nong had gone to ground ridiculously easily under the challenge of “Iron” Mike Almebäck – needless to say that Mustapha Jarju tucked it away. Vázquez, who was the Player of the Week, restored Blauw-Zwart’s lead ten minutes from time with a deflected shot from the edge of the area. The former Barcelona player then played Carlos Bacca in for the third ; the Colombian looks to be the best striker at Leekens’ disposal and is now justifying the hype that surrounded his arrival in Belgium. The manner in which Bacca rounded Werner was so emphatic it was almost disrespectful but he has become a hard player to leave out. Club Brugge are top of the table after five matches with 13 points and they showed they could win without their two stars of the current campaign – Meunier and Refaelov.
The top six now has a rather familiar look to it after just five matches with all the big guns there alongside Zulte Waregem and Lokeren lurking just outside. Interestingly, the table is bookended by the two Brugge sides.
Standings (all played 5 games):
1. Club Brugge 13, 2. Anderlecht 11, 3. Standard Liège 10, 4. KAA Gent 10, 5. Zulte Waregem 10, 6. Racing Genk 9, 7. Lokeren 7, 8. Kortrijk 7, 9. Lierse 6, 10. OH Leuven 6, 11. KV Mechelen 5, 12. Mons 5, 13. Beerschot 4, 14. Charleroi 3, 15. Waasland-Beveren 1, 16. Cercle Brugge 1.