Club Brugge 2-1 Anderlecht: Lestienne stars as Mbokani misses injury time penalty
Anderlecht’s bid to retain the title suffered another blow as Dieumerci Mbokani saw his pathetic stoppage time penalty saved by Vladan Kujovic in a 2-1 defeat to a Maxime Lestienne-inspired Club Brugge.
Juan Carlos Garrido was again forced to shuffle the pack in defence. Carl Hoefkens came in at centre-half to play alongside the quietly impressive Oscar Duarte with the rather more unconvincing Tom Høgli at leftback. John van den Brom returned to his favoured 4-3-3 system with Gillet joining Biglia and Kljestan in midfield and Suarez, Mbokani and Bruno in the front three. Behrang Safari replaced the suspended Oli Deschacht at leftback.
Anderlecht penned Club Brugge in their own half during the opening stages and enjoyed over 70% possession. The mobility of the likes of Gillet, Bruno and Suarez aligned to two marauding fullbacks meant Anderlecht gave Club little respite but it’s worth nothing that they failed to manage a single shot on target during the first half or indeed the first hour.
All that counted for nothing as Club Brugge opened the scoring. Sacha Kljestan lost out to Ryan Donk in midfield and the Dutchman proceeded to lift the ball into the path of Maxime Lestienne, who took a touch, evaded the last-gasp lunge from Cheikhou Kouyaté and calmly rolled the ball past Silvio Proto for his fourteenth goal of his best ever campaign.
Blauw-Zwart continued to enjoy little of the ball but they spurned the opportunity to lead 2-0 at the interval. Not for the first time in recent games, Bacca and Jørgensen combined to good effect after Biglia had ceded possession but the Danish midfielder’s shot was weak and easily saved by Proto. 1-0 it stood at the break with Kljestan saying more of the same was needed and that they had been ruthlessly punished for one mistake.
Bacca had a glorious chance to double the lead just before the hour mark. Høgli’s clearance forward turned into a defence splitting ball to Jørgensen. The Dane found Bacca, who with the ball slightly underneath his feet, took a touch only to see his subsequent shot bocked by a desperate Kouyaté, who had been slow in the first place to step up and play offside.
Club Brugge did score a second two minutes later. Lestienne picked up a cross field ball from Refaelov and cut inside from the right flank past Safari before unleashing a wonderful left-footed strike, which he curled beyond a stunned Proto and in off the post. If his first goal showed the youngster’s composure, the second was ample evidence of his wonderful individual quality. Though Refaelov and Meunier began the season well down the flanks, it’s still remarkable to think Lestienne did not start any of the first four league games.
In the two previous encounters between these sides, Club had taken the lead only to relinquish two points on each occasion. History was in danger of repeating itself once more when Massimo Bruno pulled a goal back. The winger beat Kujovic to Mbokani’s cross and headed home into the net to raise hopes of an Anderlecht fightback. It was Anderlecht’s first shot on target – that does not, in my eyes at least, constitute playing well or that terribly subjective “good football”. Nonetheless it set us up for a grandstand finish in the Jan Breydelstadion.
Lior Refaelov went up the other hand and saw his shot beaten away by Proto, Mbokani was denied from point blank range by Kujovic, Bacca was the latest player to be thwarted by Proto and Donk produced an outstanding defensive header to take Bruno’s cross away from Dieu. Bruno surprisingly made way for De Sutter, who had a goal ruled out after a foul on Høgli before the Norwegian scrambled the ball away to prevent Gillet from scoring. This game was going through the gears and it reached its zenith in the second minute of stoppage time.
Mbokani got in behind the Club Brugge defence and as he approached the penalty box, Oscar Duarte felt he had no other option but to bring his opponent down. Correctly deemed to be a professional foul, Duarte received his marching orders and Serge Gumienny awarded Anderlecht a spot kick. For most teams, it would be a godsend but this is Anderlecht, who had already missed ten this season in all competitions. Sure enough, Mbokani stepped up and meekly shot to the left of Kujovic who triumphantly pushed the ball to safety with both hands. Until now, Anderlecht’s curse from the spot has not derailed their title challenge but this time, they really did pay the penalty.