Jupiler Pro League Week 17: Seventh heaven for Lokeren, Standard resurgent, Gent’s malaise continues

 

Friday

Standard Liège 3-0 Lierse

Mircea Rednic is a demanding coach for the Romanian declared after this thoroughly deserved win that les Rouches need to up their game. Perhaps it was because his predecessor Ron Jans was in the stands to see his former side. Or perhaps it was because he knows this side is a work in progress and there is still a considerable job to be done.  After an incredible miss from Michy Batshuayi, slack marking from a corner-kick allowed Imoh Ezekiel to head home the opening goal. Ezekiel, preferred to target man Dudu Biton, turned provider for Paul-Jose Mpoku to drill home into the bottom corner. The ex-Spurs and Leyton Orient man felt he lost a year of his career under José Riga but has impressed in the last two matches. All three goals came in the opening 45 and the third was the best. A lightning-quick counter from one end of the field to the other saw Bulot find van Damme on the overlap and the ex-Anderlecht utility man cross for Ezekiel to net at the near post. It’s great to see Standard enjoy their football again and utilising the pace and exuberance of their young attackers.

Saturday

Beerschot 1-4 Anderlecht

John van den Brom decided to keep faith with the same starting eleven, who crashed out of the Champions League after the midweek defeat to Milan. It was Beerschot who took the lead against the run of play when Guillaume Gillet was again culpable, letting Laerenbergh finish at the far post after an excinellent low, curling ball from the right courtesy of debutant Wanderson. The champions still went in ahead at half-time after Bruno’s equaliser and Mbokani’s clever backwards header. Without ever playing at their best, Sporting exerted more and more control over their opponents and they extended their winning margin after the break. Having missed twice from the spot already this season, Gillet fired hard down the middle after he very much won the penalty. Perennial substitute Sasha Iakovenko then added the fourth after Van Langendonck had stopped Mbokani in his tracks. As for De Ratten, their poor season continues, however, club chairman Patrick Vanoppen claims he will stick with under-fire (and in my view overrated) coach Adrie Koster until the end of the campaign.

Mons 1-2 Lokeren

Peter Maes has now twice resisted overtures from Club Brugge but if he continues to keep this Lokeren side in the upper echelons of the Pro League, there will be continued admiring glances from top sides throughout the Benelux. Their record seventh successive win was hard-fought and they survived going behind to ex-Lokeren poacher Jérémy Perbet, who found the bottom corner shortly after Ibrahima Gueye had given the ball away to Arnor Angeli. There is no better finisher in the league than the man nicknamed Perbut. Koen Persoons equalised on the stroke of half-time with his own low shot beyond Berthelin. There was plenty of drama to come after the break. Thomas Chatelle was sent off after standing on Harbaoui’s shin before Laurens De Bock joined him down the tunnel when he was red carded for a professional foul on Perbet inside the box. However, Copa saved Perbet’s poor penalty and then Gueye went from zero to hero in stoppage time, netting from Milos Maric’s free-kick to keep Lokeren’s incredible run going.

KAA Gent 0-1 Zulte Waregem

Bob Peeters has so far taken an underachieving Gent side in transition and infected them with the Cercle disease of suffering defeat after defeat. Zulte Waregem made the short trip to Oost-Vlaanderen having not won in their previous two games and again they failed to show their best form in a scrappy and disjointed first period. However, they received their reward for plugging away on the hour after a debatable free-kick was awarded. Franck Berrier picked out Thorgan Hazard’s half-time replacement Ivan Lendric who headed home at the near post. Unfortunately for De Buffalo’s, their best chances fell to the profligate striker Shlomi Arbitman and Franky Dury was able to celebrate an important away win against his former club. Some Gent fans blocked the players’ exit after the game and the heavily criticised sporting director Michel Louwagie held talks with two supporters in an attempt to assuage their concerns. Essevee look nailed on now for the top six whereas Gent would be happy just to discover a properly functioning midfield.

Kortrijk 3-1 Cercle Brugge

With Anderlecht-loanee Pablo Chavarria restored to the team following his ineligibility for last week’s defeat in Brussels, De Kerels consolidated their place in the top six and helped send Cercle Brugge back to  the bottom of the table. Chavarria opened the scoring after six minutes when he benefited from some awful marking and a mistake from Cercle goalkeeper Bram Verbist. Mushaga Bakenga, on loan from Club Brugge, continued his good run of form by equalising from close range after Rudy found the Norwegian. It took until just over ten minutes to go for the match to be decided definitively. Chavarria beat three men before cutting the ball back to Mulemo at the far post, who beat Verbist with his right-footed shot. The Argentine then dispelled any doubts that he would be named Man of the Match by racing clear and rounding Verbist to make it 3-1.

KV Mechelen 0-1 Waasland-Beveren

Despite it being another atmospheric evening of football Achter de Kazerne, Malinwa – for me the forgotten disappointment of this current campaign – crashed to a nevertheless unexpected home defeat to struggling Waasland-Beveren. What will be all the more encouraging for new W-B coach Glen De Boeck is the fact that his side kept a clean sheet in his first game in charge.  The game was ultimately decided just after the half-hour mark. Englishman Jonny Rowell found Shish on the left and his near post cross was headed home by on-loan KAA Gent midfielder Christophe Lepoint. Not only was it a vital winner for the Belgian but the goal will have meant a lot to a player who has experienced a difficult couple of years as his career has stalled. Mechelen have just two points in their last five, while De Boeck will be pleased that his four changes had the desired effect in shaking up the relegation candidates, who now vacate the bottom spot.

Sunday

Club Brugge 1-0 Charleroi

Juan Carlos Garrido now has two wins from two league games under his belt but judging by the reaction at the full-time whistle, a revival in results alone will not satisfy the Club supporters. Blauw-Zwart found it difficult to break down a well-organised Charleroi defence. When the openings did arrive, Parfait Mandanda, whose reputation is growing by the week, was on hand to keep the game level. Charleroi were wrongly reduced to ten men after 30 minutes when striker Guiseppe Rossini was red carded for a hand in the face of Carl Hoefkens, who milked the incident for all it was worth. Just as Garrido prepared to introduce Carlos Bacca and Meme Tchité, Björn Vleminckx opened the scoring. The ex-NEC striker latched on to a magnificent ball over the defence by the liberated Ryan Donk (now operating in midfield under Garrido) and lashed the ball into the bottom corner. Vadis, who was denied a good shout for a penalty in the first half, was again brought down by Kumedor inside the box and he got the decision only for Bacca to be denied by Mandanda diving to his right. Club Brugge’s failure to put the game beyond doubt led to a nervous end to the game, made worse by Vadis’ dismissal for a second booking but they held on to take a second successive win.

Racing Genk 1-1 OH Leuven

Mario Been will be tearing his hair out after this match. Yet another draw for Racing when they took the lead and failed to close the game out and make use of their superiority. They showed no signs of a hangover from their win in Hungary in midweek and after threatening to score having worked their way through OHL’s defence several times, took the lead midway through the first half. Thomas Buffel found Glynor Plet, who showed his wayward strike partner Jelle Vossen how to finish, leaving Logan Bailly helpless against his former club and “the club of his heart”. After the break, Genk were more sluggish, which allowed OHL to come more and more into the game. Pouga twice went close with headers and was then denied by Koulibaly, who produced a superb last-ditch block. However, the OHL striker would have the last laugh in his duel with the France under-21 centre-back after winning a penalty deep into stoppage time. OHL’s leading goalscorer Ibou stepped up and sent van Hout the wrong way. It’s the second time this season Genk have let a lead slip against the side from Vlaams Brabant and it’s Anderlecht who emerge as the real winners from this encounter.

Table

Anderlecht 17 37
Lokeren 17 33
Zulte Waregem 17 33
Racing Genk 17 29
Club Brugge 17 28
Kortrijk 17 28
Standard Liège 17 26
OH Leuven 17 25
Mons 17 24
KAA Gent 17 20
KV Mechelen 17 19
Beerschot 17 17
Lierse 17 16
Charleroi 17 15
Waasland-Beveren 17 14
Cercle Brugge 17 11

Top scorers

Bacca Club Brugge 13
Ibou OH Leuven 13
Berrier Zulte Waregem 10
Mbokani Anderlecht 9
Vossen Racing Genk 9
Perbet Mons 9
Refaelov Club Brugge 7
Ezekiel Standard Liège 7
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