It took a long time for Club Brugge to make certain of the win but two goals in injury time helped condemn Cercle to yet another defeat as Blauw-Zwart came out on top in the Brugge derby. Oscar Duarte, ex-Cercle striker Eidur Gudjohnsen and Vadis Odjidja were all on target.
If this is to be the last such derby for at least a season, neither side were too worried about going out with a bang if the opening 45 minutes were anything to go by. The game was distinctly lacking in tempo and urgency with clear-cut opportunities few and far between.
Ryan Donk decided to shake things up somewhat as he tried his luck from distance and Cercle Brugge goalkeeper Jo Coppens tipped the ball onto the post. Coppens had a better game than last weekend when he struggled consistently under the high ball.
There was a controversial moment involving the former Belgian u19 international keeper when Lior Refaelov was booked for allegedly catching him. However, replays showed there was no foul and it was a case of very convincing playacting on the Cercle man’s part.
Club Brugge broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time. Victor Vázquez swung in a lovely free-kick from the left, which was met by Oscar Duarte, who stooped to head home his first goal in Belgian football. In many ways, it was the ideal time for the so-called visitors to score and thus land a psychological blow to their rivals before the half-time team talks.
Blauw-Zwart began the second period with a good deal more purpose, undoubtedly buoyed by the goal and Refaelov was denied by Coppens a couple of minutes into the half. Cercle, to their credit, also started to show some fight – Bakenga saw a low shot and a header kept out by Kujovic while the Serbian goalkeeper also had to tip Rudy’s well-controlled volley over the bar.
Cercle were able to put more pressure on Club inside their defensive third and limit the service to the front three but an equaliser proved beyond them. Jonathan Blondel made a welcome return, having been out injured since the middle of December as he replaced Victor Vázquez for the last fifteen minutes.
Carlos Bacca again failed to see out the 90 minutes and he refused Juan Carlos Garrido’s handshake before treating his teammates on the bench to a piece of his mind. We may not have heard the last of this episode.
Shortly after, Garrido introduced Eidur Gudjohnsen, who had joined Cercle on a free in the autumn before moving on to Club Brugge in January after a successful spell with the strugglers. The former Chelsea and Barcelona man was roundly booed by the home crowd.
However, the Icelandic veteran has seen it all before and he responded in the best possible manner by sealing the three points in stoppage time with a deft finish as he lifted the ball over a helpless Coppens. A deflated Groen-Zwart were then helpless to prevent a second injury time goal. Tom Høgli cut the ball back to Vadis, who finished first time into the net, marking a mini-renaissance for the midfielder once targeted by Everton.
The three points put Club Brugge fourth with two games to play while Cercle are now doomed to PO3. Whether they will face Beerschot or Lierse is yet to be determined. In an interesting twist, Club play Lierse on the final day while Cercle go to Beerschot.