Beerschot 0-2 Racing Genk
There was something of the night about this match but Mario Been’s side emerged from Antwerpen with a clean sheet, three points and a second straight win. The atmosphere was flat and Beerschot dominated the opening stages without managing a shot on target. Genk’s opening goal was therefore appropriate in the circumstances. Jelle Vossen headed the ball seemingly nowhere but had the presence of mind to poke the ball beyond Stijnen as it dropped. Genk’s leading scorer put the game to bed with five minutes left when he smashed the ball home after a Barda-led counter attack. Beerschot didn’t register a shot on target until the final quarter of the game and have now lost 17 league games out of 26. Genk now go to Stuttgart in midweek for the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.
Lokeren 1-1 Zulte Waregem
In the end there was no separating the two surprise packages of the season. The opening stages were akin to a titanic chess battle with neither side giving an inch. It’s been a fine week all round for Thorgan Hazard and the man on loan from Chelsea lit up proceedings with a stunning right-footed strike to put Essevee ahead. Peter Maes’ decision to introduce Walter Balufo at the break paid dividends almost immediately as the Spaniard cut inside on his left and beat an unsighted Sammy Bossut from the edge of the penalty area. Hazard and Hamdi Harbaoui had good chances to win it but 1-1 was how it ended meaning Lokeren remain the last side to beat Essevee – back in mid-October. Franky Dury’s men are unbeaten in fourteen – astonishing considering the resources he has to work with.
Club Brugge 3-1 OH Leuven
A home game against a side with one win in the last ten seemed the ideal fixture for Club Brugge after last week’s defeat. Despite showing signs of improvement in the opening 45, they found themselves a goal down in the second half. OHL had come more and more into the match and were rewarded when Karuru found the unmarked ex-Club man Karel Geraerts, who made no mistake. Geraerts left his former side after sharp criticism of the direction the club was taking but nevertheless his celebration was muted. OHL were reduced to ten when Kenny Thompson was sent off for a lunging tackle on Lior Refaelov.
Lestienne equalised soon after when he rounded Bailly to score – the referee did exceptionally well to spot that Gislason had got the last touch, thus playing the Belgian u21 international onside. The home side took the lead after an exquisite link-up between Gudjohnsen and Refaelov, the latter dinking the ball into the net. Jim Larsen was sent off for a two-footed tackle on Geraerts but Club made sure of the win thanks to Ivan Trickovski dancing through a tired OHL defence for his first league goal.
Kortrijk 1-0 KAA Gent
Another case of one step forward, two steps back for De Buffalo’s as Kortrijk kept their faint hopes of PO1 alive. The game turned in a five minute spell just after the hour mark. Rafinha may well argue he was harshly dealt with for thrusting his elbow in the direction of Chavarria but he was always running the risk of the red card he duly received. Shortly after, Kortrijk’s bright young talent Brecht Dejaegere settled the destination of the three points. He got in behind Neto before calmly guiding the ball past Frank Boeckx. To add insult to injury, Mboyo, Lepoint and Brüls all picked up injuries with the latter being ruled out for a month.
KV Mechelen 2-0 Cercle Brugge
Despite a setback last week, Mechelen are really motoring now and they inflicted yet more misery on relegation favourites Cercle Brugge. It did take Malinwa until the second half before they troubled the scorers however. Seth De Witte was the quickest to react after Thomas Enevoldsen’s corner had struck the woodwork and there was no coming back from then on for Cercle. Mads Junker, who is starting to live up to the reputation he brought to Belgium, secured the win [and £10 of winnings for me!] after a quick counter-attack, waiting for Cercle goalkeeper Verbist to commit to the dive.
Charleroi 1-0 Lierse
This was never likely to deliver a huge amount of goals but few coaches will be more content after the weekend than Yannick Ferrera. Les Zèbres were written off across the board, including on this blog but they took another giant step towards safety with this victory over a flagging Lierse. Guiseppe Rossini took advantage of a fine back post cross from the underrated Milicevic to head home, having already hit the crossbar. Rossini turned villain when he was given a second yellow after elbowing Saidi but Charleroi held on for the final 25 minutes.
Standard Liège 0-1 Mons
A superb rearguard action helped give Enzo Scifo’s men a historic first win at Sclessin, handing them the spoils in the Walloon derby. Les Rouches dominated possession but found themselves unable to create a great deal of clear-cut opportunities. The only goal of the game came in the first half when Shlomi Arbitman pounced from close range after Laurent Ciman seemingly tried to chest the ball back to goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima. It remains a mystery why Ciman is continually called up for Belgium and this blunder will have done him no favours. The home fans were understandably unhappy at full time. Debutants Adrian Cristea, who started and Kensuke Nagai and George Tucudean, who came off the bench, failed to hit the ground running.
Waasland-Beveren 1-2 Anderlecht
This was another strange encounter at De Freethiel in Beveren. John van den Brom sprung a surprise by keeping Dennis Praet on the bench and partnering Tom De Sutter and the returning Dieumerci Mbokani upfront. The absence of key duo Biglia and Jovanovic was felt keenly by the champions who went behind to Jordan Remacle’s first goal for W-B. Kouyaté lost out to De Smet who found Remacle and the winger lifted the ball with authority above Proto. Kanu, who has been linked with a move to Russia, set up the equaliser. His inch perfect through ball was bettered by a majestic chip from Mbokani over Coosemans. Mbokani returned the favour for Kanu, who scored what would be the winner, placing his left-footed shot into the net. In fairness, the Brazilian could have been given a second yellow on more than one occasion and Iakovenko was guilty of a rash challenge on De Smet, which forced the ex-Cercle man off. W-B were also outraged when the referee stopped play late on after Proto went down injured after a collision with D’Ulivo – Oli Deschacht said after the game that everyone had stopped and at any rate, there was no guarantee Badash would have scored. Anderlecht are now eight points clear at the top.
Team of the Week: Mons for their first ever win in Liège
Player of the Week: Lior Refaelov – back where he belongs in the Club Brugge starting eleven.
Patatje of the Week: Laurent Ciman for his blunder.
Goal of the Week: Thorgan Hazard’s long-ranger against Lokeren