Club Brugge 2-1 Lokeren: Refaelov’s winner sends Club Brugge second

Club Brugge came from behind to defeat Lokeren 2-1 at the Jan Breydelstadion, thus building on last week’s home win over Anderlecht to move into second spot with just three games remaining.

Lokeren striker Hamdi Harbaoui opened the scoring.

Lokeren striker Hamdi Harbaoui opened the scoring.

No sooner did the match get underway did it come to a shuddering halt. Carlos Bacca, who is seldom afraid to go for goal no matter how many he may miss, fired a low shot from outside of the box. Lokeren goalkeeper Copa dived full-stretch to his right only to bang his head on the post. He was knocked out cold and as the medical staff attempted to revive him, there was clear concern on the faces of Club and Lokeren players alike. Fortunately, the popular Ivorian came round and he was applauded off the field by both sets of fans to be taken to hospital with severe concussion.

After a long stoppage, it was understandable that the game was slow to get going upon its resumption. Koen Persoons tested Vladan Kujovic with a low shot but the home side were unable to find their fluent best. Harbaoui as ever was working hard for his side as the lone striker and Galitsios, who has had a fine season was a useful outlet down the right flank.

Lokeren did force the breakthrough seven minutes before the interval. De Pauw got past Meunier down the left-hand side of the box and cut the ball back to Harbaoui, who capitalised on a fortunate ricochet off Duarte, found the back of the net from close range for his eleventh league goal of the season. He could perhaps score more for himself by adopting a more selfish attitude but his all-round play is one of the key aspects of this Lokeren side and were he to lose that, it would be to the detriment of the team. As for Meunier, he didn’t cover himself in glory and it would be no surprise to see at least one new top class rightback at Club next season.

Lior Refaelov  scored the winner for Club Brugge. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Lior Refaelov scored the winner for Club Brugge. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

At the other end, Club Brugge have a wealth of options and it was one of their jewels in the crown who equalised. Bacca and Jørgensen combined to find Lestienne, who cut in from the right and with little backlift, curled the ball beyond Lazic and into the far corner of the net. Lokeren were warned when Lestienne scored a similar goal last week but knowing what’s coming and stopping it are two different matters entirely. It was just the latest in a long line of brilliant goals from the Belgian under-21 international and ensured the sides went in level at half-time.

Club should have taken the lead four minutes into the second half when Refaelov blasted the rebound over the bar after Lazic had beaten Bacca’s shot away. The Israeli would later make up for that miss. Harbaoui remained a constant menace up front volleying spectacularly into the hands of Kujovic while Club Brugge were denied a penalty. With neither side prepared to settle for a point, something would have to give.

Not long after Lestienne spurned a golden chance, when he was put off at the last moment by El Mouataz, Refaelov completed Blauw Zwart‘s turnaround. Taking the ball from Bacca, he fired the ball low past Lazic from 25 yards and while the giant substitute goalkeeper may feel he could have done better, it was nonetheless a fine strike from one of Belgium’s most creative sparks.

Captain for the day Victor Vázquez went off, with Brandon Mechele being handed a first-team debut in the closing stages. Although Bacca failed to kill the game off when Lazic plucked the ball from his feet when the Colombian tried to round the Serb, Garrido’s men held on for a vital win that puts them into the second Champions League spot.

PO1 after 7 games (3 to go): Anderlecht 42, Club Brugge 40, Zulte Waregem 40, Racing Genk 39, Standard Liège 38, Lokeren 31.

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