Anderlecht 1-2 Genk: Gorius inspires stunning second half turnaround
A second half turnaround from Genk left Anderlecht reeling as they were found wanting without their big guns and crashed to a 1-2 home defeat to the 2011 champions.
The absence of Gillet, Mbokani and Jovanovic meant that John van den Brom, who was serving a one-game touchline ban, had to shuffle his pack. He opted to leave youngsters Massimo Bruno and Dennis Praet on the bench while handing Matias Suarez his first start of the season and playing Demy De Zeeuw in midfield alongside the usual duo of Lucas Biglia and Sacha Kljestan.
Anderlecht seized the initiative from the off with De Zeeuw able to break forward from midfield and Suarez eager to impress after such a long time out with injury. The ex-AZ midfielder was unfortunate that Odoi’s cross was behind him before he had a shot deflected over the bar. The home side were cursing their luck when Suarez played De Sutter in only for the flag to be wrongly raised. Khaleem Hyland left his mark on Kljestan when he went in over the top yet Nzolo only awarded a yellow card.
In comparison to the earlier game, there was a much better tempo to this affair and Anderlecht took a deserved lead after 36 minutes. Sasha Iakovenko whipped a terrific ball in from the right and Bram Nuytinck headed the champions in front in front of the understandably happy Dutch coach Louis van Gaal.
As Genk assistant Pierre Denier admitted at half-time, Racing had done well to trail by just the solitary strike. However, any prospects of a change in fortunes looked bleak as the home side continued where they left off upon the resumption. When Suarez, Kljestan and De Sutter had efforts in quick succession, Mario Been decided to act decisively and bring Julien Gorius on for Hyland to add guile to the midfield. It was a change that would reap rich dividends.
Just over ten minutes later, Genk equalised as they exposed what was to become an Achilles heel for Anderlecht during the game – defending at set-pieces. From a Gorius corner, central defender Kara Mbodj struck with a free header at the back stick, which Proto was unable to keep out. Suddenly, the game began to took on a very different complexion.
Mario Been’s men completed a stunning turnaround with fifteen minutes to go. Bram Nuytinck’s clearing header was helped back into the danger zone and the ever alert Jelle Vossen picked the perfect time to score a captain’s goal. Anderlecht, who had failed to put the game to bed while on top, were now found wanting when put under the cosh.
Shortly after Cyriac came on for his debut since controversially leaving Standard, Sporting were handed what for any other team would be a lifeline. Matias Suarez was brought down by Tshimanga’s trailing leg but Been’s protests that Nuytinck had taken the ball out of play earned him a red card.
Nuytinck stepped up for the first time since being made the designated penalty taker only to find that he too is not averse to the penalty curse afflicting Paarswit. Köteles László threw himself to his right and stopped the Dutchman’s spot kick. It was the EIGHTH time Anderlecht had failed to score from twelve yards in the league this season.
Substitute Bruno had an effort straight at Köteles and Anderlecht even sent Silvio Proto forward in stoppage time but to no avail. Genk have now positioned themselves as the most dangerous challengers to Anderlecht and lie just three points off the top and two behind Zulte Waregem. After the first round of play-offs, it’s all to play for in Belgium!