JPL Round 1 – Tielemans rescues Anderlecht as champions stumble
Sint-Truiden 2-1 Club Brugge
KV Kortrijk 2-1 Standard Liège
KV Oostende 3-1 KV Mechelen
Racing Genk 3-1 OH Leuven
Zulte Waregem 3-1 Lokeren
Westerlo 1-1 KAA Gent
Anderlecht 3-2 Waasland-Beveren
Charleroi 2-1 Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz
In an opening round where three of the big five fluffed their lines, Youri Tielemans’ dramatic stoppage time winner ensured there were no slip-ups for an Anderlecht side still very much in limbo with just over a month left of the transfer window. Shorn of star players Aleksandar Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba, they threw away a two-goal cushion (Gillet and Sylla) against new-look Waasland-Beveren, for whom Langil and Vanzo used the counter to devastating effect. If that stunned Besnik Hasi, then Tielemans’ swerving shot from outside the area was the perfect end to a roller-coaster of emotions for the Albanian who was rightly disappointed at the poor second-half showing. Reinforcements are needed at Neerpede and if the papers are to be believed, they are on their way.
Perennial bridesmaids Club Brugge’s opening 2-1 defeat away to Sint-Truiden provided a timely reminder of the standards their former goalkeeper Maty Ryan set between the sticks. His replacement, Sébastien Bruzzese was candid enough to admit he should have done better with Rherras’ long-time shot, which he parried into the path of Fernandes who cancelled out Tom De Sutter’s opener against the run of play. Blauw-Zwart went home from Stayen empty-handed after a stunning long-range goal from Edmilson Junior. Club have work to do if they are to get past Panathinaikos in the Champions League and Sinan Bolat’s debut cannot come soon enough. STVV coach Yannick Ferrera has done his reputation no harm and it seems inevitable he will land a big job.
KAA Gent coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck rued the fact he could only make three substitutions as the champions laboured to a draw at Westerlo – he could have made double the amount of changes. Creativity and ideas were lacking even against a home side playing with ten men for the final half-hour and the equaliser they did score came from the spot. Nonetheless, while there is a burden of expectation De Buffalo’s have never before experienced, the fact players of the ilk of Simon and Milicevic began on the bench is testament to the quality at the Ghelamco Arena.
Club were not the only giant to suffer from early stage fright as the new post-Duchâtelet era at Standard began with a 2-1 defeat, ironically to a club with a rather controversial owner in KV Kortrijk. Ivan Santini endured an unhappy return to his former club, striking the post with the game still scoreless. Luxembourg international Maxime Chanot’s two headers were sandwiched by a debatable penalty from former Leicester City winger Anthony Knockaert. It was the perfect start for Johan Walem who has Yves Vanderhaeghe’s big shoes to fill. Standard boss Slavoljub Muslim bemoaned the frequency of long balls forward, a familiar refrain of those who railed at Guy Luzon’s gameplan.
Vanderhaeghe has gone to the upwardly mobile KV Oostende where the much looser pursestrings will be of great relief in contrast to the tight ship run in Kortrijk. His reign began with a convincing 3-1 home win over KV Mechelen who handed Belgian international goalkeeper Jean-François Gillet his first league start in his own country this century . The pace and movement of the likes of Jordan Lukaku and Fernando Canesin proved too hot for Malinwa to handle.
In retrospect, Alex McLeish may be looked at as a Bobby Robson-type stopgap figure as Racing Genk were finally able to parade the highly impressive Peter Maes as their coach. The former Lokeren boss had Igor De Camargo’s brace to thank for the three points as his individual quality (including a long-ranger to rival Tielemans) proved telling in a 3-1 win against Jacky Mathijssen’s spirited OH Leuven outfit.
Zulte Waregem and Lokeren have enjoyed upsetting the big boys in recent years although last season saw Francky Dury’s men come back to the pack in an an emotional period for Essevee. New Lokeren boss Bob Peeters saw both the sublime and the ridiculous from his team with Davino Verhulst foul for regathering the ball resulting in the opening goal and Cyril Dessers’ second yellow for handball sandwiched by a stunning Ayanda Patosi free-kick. New Essevee captain Mbaye Leye and ex-Gent midfielder Jesper Jørgensen also ended up on the scoresheet.
The weekend came to an end with a Hainaut derby between last season’s interlopers Charleroi, whose crowds are up and whose identity has been restored, and Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz, who are very much at a loss as to theirs. The returning David Pollet wasn’t on song for the hosts who went 2-0 up including a beauty from Damien Marcq but while a Sébastien Dewaest own goal gave the visitors a sniff of a point, the scoreline didn’t reflect the distinct gulf in quality between the sides.