Belgian Super Cup: Anderlecht 2-1 Lokeren
Even by Belgian standards this game was a slow burner but a frenetic end saw Anderlecht claim the Belgian Super Cup courtesy of an injury time own goal from ex-Mauve Denis Odoi.
If it felt like an awfully premature start to the season, that’s because it was. The World Cup has barely ended and the three leading title contenders have yet to make many significant moves in the transfer market. Anderlecht, whom we saw today, are in no hurry to add reinforcements. Herman van Holsbeeck is happy to wait until well after next week’s opening league game to bring in the players he feels will enable Anderlecht to be competitive in the Champions League group stages.
Silvio Proto is back in training but not yet fully fit so Thomas Kaminski deputised in goal. Fabrice N’Sakala filled in at rightback and Aleksandar Mitrovic was handed the opportunity to return to his fighting weight from the start. For Lokeren, they too were without their first choice goalkeeper Copa so Davino Verhulst began with Henrique debuting at leftback. Gregory Mertens was the beneficiary of an injury to Scholz, who is likely to leave before the transfer window shuts.
While the Pro League understandably has to build up its product, to use a horribly modern term, its description of the first half as “interesting” would have fooled no-one who was watching. However, the opening 45 was lit up by a finely constructed goal from league champions Anderlecht. Frank Acheampong’s through ball split the Lokeren defence wide open and Cyriac was both selfless and alert enough to roll the ball into the path of Mitrovic, who couldn’t miss. The Serbian went some way to getting back into Hasi’s good books as the visitors’ high line was ruthlessly punished.
Mitrovic made way at half-time for Suárez, whose reception highlighted just what a popular figure the former Gouden Schoen/Soulier d’Or winner remains in Brussels. When the Argentine looked to be ominously setting his sights on a second goal, fellow sub Nill De Pauw raced back to execute a superb challenge, sacrificing himself for the team as he would have to come off shortly after.
Lokeren have proven themselves to be a tenacious outfit under Peter Maes and they got themselves back in the game. Denis Odoi’s cross found the hitherto anonymous Hamdi Harbaoui and last season’s leading goalscorer leapt superbly before directing his header back across goal beyond Kaminski. The Tunisian may be on his way out but few would begrudge him a big move at what should be the peak of his career following several seasons of consistent performance for Lokeren.
Fresh from his World Cup experience, Andy Najar was looking the part down the right. Henrique may go on to continue Lokeren’s fine recent tradition of leftbacks but he’ll face few more testing opponents than the Honduran. Paarswit pushed for the winner with Verhulst diving full length to his left to deny Milivojevic before Nuytinck missed a sitter. There were more heroics from Henrique and Verhulst but Najar broke the deadlock in stoppage time with his fierce ball across goal being diverted home by a devastated Odoi. If Najar continues in this vein, Mitrovic may get closer to his jokingly set target of 100 goals this campaign.
Anderlecht get their hands on more silverware. Has anything really changed? We’ll know more when a Standard team currently in tatters kick the league off with what should be a hotly contested derby against Charleroi at Sclessin. We can’t wait here at BeNeFoot – bring it on!