JPL Matchday 25 Round Up – Standard extend lead at the top
Standard 2 – 0 Zulte Waregem
In perhaps the biggest match of the weekend, and the first of the Super Sunday duo, league leaders Standard temporarily went 12 points clear of their nearest challenger. Essevee are the only team to have given Standard the taste of defeat so far this season but they were unable to repeat the feat in the reverse fixture in the 25th match day of the season.
It may be Michy Batshuayi who has grabbed the majority of the headlines for Standard but he did not manage to get on the scoresheet this time. Instead it was Paul-José Mpoku who broke the deadlock with a free kick just moments before Batshuayi himself hit the post with what surely would have been the nail in the coffin.
As it transpired it was Jelle Van Damme, Standard captain, who came up with a big goal on the counter attack and move Standard one big step closer to wrapping up the title. With just five more matches to go in the regular season before the controversial halving of the points means wins like this, over title rivals, is all the more important for Standard.
Racing Genk 1 – 3 Club Brugge
Genk’s second half of the season capitulation continued in style as Mario Been’s team now look highly likely to finish outside of Play Off 1 for the season, if their poor run continues. It was a big match for both sides who have looked less than convincing for a while this season, and it was Genk who made the first move with a lobbed goal from Gerkens, his first in the league.
Just as it looked like Been would be telling his players to keep going as they were ,they conceded a first half injury time goal to Vadis Odjidja Ofoe. After the break it was Club Brugge who turned the screw with goals from Bjorn Engels giving them a 2-1 lead and then it was time for debutant Castillo to make his mark as he confirmed the victory with a 3rd goal in added time.
It puts Club Brugge amazingly up to 2nd place despite being only their second win in the last five, but they are 10 points behind league leaders Standard and will need to up their game into the Play Off 1 campaign if they are to catch up. For Genk they are just four points ahead of seventh place Gent and have now lost 11 matches in the season. They are in real danger of falling out the top six and having to endure the Play Off 2 process if they are to get another shot at Europe next season.
Kortrijk 2 – 2 Anderlecht
New signing David Pollet may have just ensured his coach’s job will last just a little bit longer, as he scored a 93rd minute equaliser to steal away a massive victory for Kortrijk. After a scoreless opening half, Elimane Coulibaly had given Kortrijk the lead just before the hour and then Stijn De Smet had doubled the margin about quarter of an hour later.
Anderlecht coach John van den Brom has been in a difficult position and we wrote at this very website that his days at the club may be numbered. Lining up with a midfield consisting of out of place defenders as well as youngster Youri Tielemans – who, despite bright potential is still a learning teenager – and Ronald Vargas is just not good enough.
However Anderlecht were rescued from some unlikely sources. Cyriac Gohi Bi, who has been out injured pretty much since transferring from Standard in 2012 managed to get one back in the 69th minute; it was Cyriac’s first goal for the club and set up by David Pollet on his debut. Pollet went one better about twenty minutes later and deep into stoppage time, he rescued a point for Anderlecht with a late goal. Having been on the pitch for only thirty minutes it was a debut to remember for the former Charleroi man.
For coach van den Brom, though, it will not do for the fans to be scraping a point against Kortrijk as major rivals Standard surge ahead.
Mons 1-5 Lierse SK
An absolute second half horror show from ‘rode lantaarn’ side Mons pretty much summed up their season so far as they totally and utterly capitulated against Lierse SK at the Stade Charles Toandreau. Going into the half time break 1-0 up must have been a joy for the small crowd that had shown up, given Mons had lost their last three league games on the spin.
But in the second half things soon got worse, thanks in part to two main men. 22 year old Mbaye Diagne had signed following a gameless run with French side Ajaccio but has quickly shown Lierse fans what he brings to the table. Scoring in last week’s 2-0 win over Anderlecht he was soon back on the scoresheet as he scored a quick fire double equalising and then putting Lierse in the lead in the space of a minute.
Tony Watt – the on loan striker from Celtic who may have began slightly slow for Lierse – is now in full swing, scored his seventh and eighth league goals either side of a red card for Mons defender Grégory Lorenzi. Diagne then sealed his hat trick with a stoppage time fifth.
It means that Lierse are one of the form teams in the league, having won their last three league games in a row thanks to four goals in two games from Diagne and five goals in three games from Watt.
Lokeren 3 – 1 Sporting Charleroi
Lokeren took a big step forward to securing their spot in Play Off 1 with an emphatic 3-1 victory against Sporting Charleroi on Saturday. In an afternoon short of goals in some matches, Lokeren were not shy in front of goal with Killian Overmeire, Nils de Pauw and Dutra securing a come from behind victory.
Lokeren’s victory quickly gets eyes back onto the field after their cup semi final with KV Oostende was marred by crowd trouble. Both sets of fans did their clubs no favours and also fans of Dutch club NAC Breda were allegedly in the stadium causing chaos.
It marked a third straight loss for Sporting Charleroi as they inch closer to the relegation play off spots. New signing Enes Sağlık had opened the scoring for Charleroi after three minutes against his former club, but the enjoyment was short lived as Lokeren captain Overmeire equalised in the ninth. De Pauw scored to put Lokeren ahead in the first half and Dutra completed the rout after an hour with Lokeren’s third.
Charleroi are just five points ahead of Waasland-Beveren in fifteenth and having sold some of their top players in January have gone from Play Off 1 outsiders to Play Off 3 contenders.
Cercle Brugge 0 – 0 Waasland-Beveren
Cercle Brugge huffed and puffed but could not manage to get a shot past Colin Coosemans in the Waasland-Beveren goal as the two teams played out a 0-0 draw. It was a pretty one sided match as Cercle enjoyed the majority of the ball and maintained consistent pressure but just could not find the vital goal.
For Cercle the result is not a disaster, even having Michael Uchebo sent off in stoppage time is not awful. Cercle are eight points off sixth and also eight points off fifteenth and look set for a season of mid table. After last year’s great escape, some mid table mediocrity may just be what the doctor ordered.
For Waasland-Beveren, however, they will be desperate to get out of the bottom two as soon as possible. They are just one point behind OH Leuven and have lost just one of their last seven so will be greatly perplexed as to why they haven’t been able to lift themselves out of the danger zone. With their Eastern European strike force of Ivan Tričkovski, Dalibor Veselinović and Róbert Demjan they should, in theory, have a strike force capable of beating off the possibility of relegation.
KV Oostende 0 – 0 Gent
Both sides were eliminated mid week from the semi finals of the Belgian cup competition and their match against each other reflected this. Like moping teenagers clinging to lost loves, there was no spark as both teams went through the motions in a 0-0 draw.
A goalless draw for Oostende is more beneficial than it is for Gent who harbour ambitions of finishing in the top six. For Oostende they are happy to stay up and just ensure that come next season they are still playing in the top flight.
A small victory for the home team came after the match as they announced coach Frederik Vanderbiest had re-signed until 2016.
OH Leuven 0 – 0 KV Mechelen
OH Leuven and KV Mechelen was another match where neither team could manage to break the deadlock. Although both teams had seemingly more impetus than either Oostende or Gent. Mokulu Tembe, Cordaro and Destorme started brightly for the away side, as people still wait with baited breath for their first whiff of either Jonathan Legear or Charly Musonda.
It was a relatively even match from the teams but just lacking in any real quality. OH Leuven will lament the lost form of the once unstoppable Ibou Sawaneh and KV Mechelen will wonder if the Benjamin Mokulu Tembe they signed is the same one that showed so much promise at Lokeren.
Both teams are both flirting with relegation, but you would think Mechelen are less likely to get sucked into the real fight while OH Leuven’s fears of at least going into the relegation play off seem much more real.