Anderlecht 2-1 Cercle Brugge
Sporting coach John van den Brom best summed this win up when he remarked that “it says it all that we relied on two penalties.” Cercle remain rooted to the bottom of the table but they deserved more than they got in Brussels last night after a spirited display that offers hope for their survival chances. Eidur Gudjohnsen was unable to repeat his midweek heroics though he was denied by a fine save from Silvio Proto. It was Norwegian striker Mushaga Bakenga who gave Groen-Zwart the lead, chipping Proto after Smolders had robbed Lucas Biglia in midfield. As mentioned above, Paarswit‘s comeback came down to two penalties, one of which was scored by Biglia and one, which was missed by the Argentine, only for Ronald Vargas, back from injury, to bundle in the rebound and win the game late on. Anderlecht go into next week’s Champions League tie in Malaga knowing their position at the top is more secure than ever. They lead second-placed Zulte Waregem by six points.
American midfielder Sacha Kljestan tweeted that he wanted David Beckham to come to Anderlecht after the money making machine played his last game for LA Galaxy. While he said that it had been an honour to play alongside the 100-cap man, any regular watcher of Belgian football knows that the real reason he wants Becks is because Biglia’s set-pieces are so terrible!
OH Leuven 1-1 KAA Gent
Bob Peeters’ record this season as a coach for both Cercle and Gent reads as follows: 17 games, 1 win, 3 draws, 13 defeats. The third of those came in Leuven as De Buffalo’s chronic weakness of poor finishing caught up with them once more. N’Diaye opened the scoring on five minutes with a header from close range after some good interplay from Brüls, Messoudi and Mboyo only to see Karel Geraerts hit back two minutes later with a low shot into the corner after turning in between the two Gent centre-backs. Hannes van der Bruggen played well for Gent but in the absence of Thijs, it would be unwise to place too much pressure on his tender shoulders. And at least no-one got knocked out this time. Bravo to the OHL fans for their take on the famous Red Bull wings slogan as they marked the outstanding achievements of their coach Ronny van Geneugden.
Club Brugge 1-1 KV Mechelen
Juan Carlos Garrido handed 18-year old midfielder Birger Verstraete a debut in the absence of suspended duo Jonathan Blondel and Vadis Ojdidja-Ofoe meaning that for now at least, the experiment of playing Ryan Donk in midfield came to an end. Mechelen, who were boosted by the return of Danish international Niklas Pedersen to the starting eleven, did well in the opening 45 but were unable to make their pressure count. For all the talk about Bacca and Tchité, it was birthday boy Björn Vleminckx (described by Club legend Franky van der Elst as a supersub) who scored Club Brugge’s only goal, as last week. He refused to celebrate against his former club after scoring from a tight angle. The aforementioned Pedersen, who moved to Belgium against the advice of Denmark coach Morten Olsen, secured a point for Malinwa with a near post finish. If Club want to do more than just settle for a top six spot, they need to improve both their general play and their terrible pitch, though it’s not quite yet as bad as the beach at Stamford Bridge!
Lierse 0-3 Mons
Enzo Scifo does not receive enough credit for the job he has done at Mons, so here is some more. He has reaped the benefits of bringing Jérémy Perbet back in from the cold to the extent that the Frenchman now has eleven goals this term and a goal every 88 minutes. Perbut opened the scoring on 35 minutes with a close range header and has now scored in six consecutive matches. On-loan midfielder Arnor Angeli doubled the lead just before half-time with a magnificent left-footed free-kick from 30+ yards. His set-pieces resulted in the first two goals and he is flourishing in Scifo’s attack-minded side, having found his path blocked at Standard. When Lierse missed a chance to get themselves back into the game, that man Perbet punished them just before the hour. Lierse’s tripartite management have some serious work to do after this very worrying result for De Pallieters. Scifo meanwhile was once again delighted with Perbet’s contribution, saying that “Many people have doubted him but we are happy he is with us. Even when he has an off day, he makes the difference.”
Charleroi 2-0 Kortrijk
Yannick Ferrera’s men showed that there are some Zèbres who do like the snow as Charleroi secured an important, and surprising win at home to the tightest defence in the Pro League. Onur Kaya showed his eye for an intelligent ball when he played in Daniel Milicevic ; the Swiss made no mistake in finding the bottom corner past a helpless Darren Keet. Kaya also set up the second goal, which came three minutes prior to the interval when he ran down the left before unleashing a perfect cross onto the head of young striker Mohamed Aoulad, who is on loan from Anderlecht. Charleroi continued to have the upper hand in the second half and could have won by many more but Kaya was unable to add a deserved goal to his two assists as he spurned chance after chance. Hein Vanhaezebrouck bemoaned the lack of a threat upfront, Chavarria excepted and he may be on the lookout for an attacking reinforcement or two come the window, funds permitting.
Zulte Waregem 0-0 Beerschot
This point comes as a welcome relief for Beerschot, who have experienced another turbulent week following the sacking of head coach Adrie Koster. The odds were stacked against the visitors, who are struggling in the nether regions of the table and had to make do without Oztürk, Ojo and Stijn Wuytens in addition to star man Hernan Losada. Caretaker coach Wim De Corte’s counterpart, Francky Dury again left Thorgan Hazard on the bench and handed Jérémy Serwy a first start in five months. Despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession, Essevee were unable to break down a stubborn Beerschot side. Ivan Lendric had the best chances for the home side but could not repeat his goalscoring exploits of the previous week. Zulte Waregem are still on course for PO1 but they need to start winning games soon. As for De Ratten, they must now look to build on this more solid footing as they depart from the tactical naivety of Koster. It’s hard to see them pulling up any trees though.
Lokeren 3-4 Racing Genk
Not just the game of the weekend but the game of the season for me. Lokeren’s seven game winning streak finally came to an end as they failed to break the record set in 1977 and 2012. Racing Genk took all three points having thrown away a 3-1 lead (they have failed to win seven times this season after assuming leading positions). Ivan Leko’s free-kick only gave Lokeren a brief advantage as Jelle Vossen hit back first with a disputed penalty and then with a close range finish after Buffel left De Bock and Taravel trailing in his wake. Peter Maes was sent to the stands for viewing pictures of the said penalty incident on a TV monitor belonging to a member of the VOO television crew. If only the Pro League were as proactive in stamping out erroneous refereeing decisions…
It is worth noting that Genk’s first penalty of the season came a week after Mario Been hit out at referees, saying they have too much influence on the outcome of games (sentiments he would later retract). If only the Pro League were as proactive in stamping out erroneous refereeing decisions…
Vossen completed his hat-trick in the second half when Copa made the kind of error he will never completely eliminate from his game, outstanding though his form has been this season. Yet any notion that Lokeren were going to surrender their unbeaten run with a mere whimper was quickly dispelled. They responded superbly to going two goals behind and Ayanda Patosi was involved in both goals as they levelled the game. The South African played a neat through ball for Benjamin Mokulu to round the advancing van Hout before a mishit shot from the edge of the box was deftly headed home by Koen Persoons. It wasn’t to be though for Sporting as Monrose sealed a vital win for Mario Been’s side with a thunderous shot from the edge of the penalty box in the dying minutes. It’s abundantly clear that only Genk and the January transfer window can stop Anderlecht from retaining their title.
Waasland-Beveren 0-2 Standard Liège
Les Rouches now find themselves in the top six after this largely straightforward win at Freethiel Stadion. When Imoh Ezekiel scored his eighth of the season after thirteen minutes, such was the gulf in class between the two sides that any score looked possible. Only Colin Coosemans stood up in that difficult opening spell with his bravery though even he wasn’t overly convincing when punching away crosses into the box. Unfortunately, it was too easy for Standard and they began to share the lack of ambition of the home side, who had begun with five defenders and no recognised striker. It was no surprise that it took them an eternity just to register their first shot on goal. Waasland-Beveren had two good shouts for a penalty but Standard finally secured the three points deep into stoppage time when William Vainqueur rattled the ball home into the bottom corner of the net. Rednic though was demonstrably unhappy on the touchline at the lax attitude shown by his players between their two goals with the wasteful Mpoku undoing some of his good work in previous weeks. Still, I doubt the Romanian coach would wish for Glen De Boeck’s problems.