JPL Round 2 – ‘Little’ Lukaku makes his mark
KAA Gent 1-0 Racing Genk
Club Brugge 3-0 KV Mechelen
KV Oostende 2-1 Westerlo
Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz 0-2 Sint-Truiden
Waasland-Beveren 2-1 KV Kortrijk
Lokeren 2-2 Charleroi
Standard Liège 2-1 Zulte Waregem
OH Leuven 0-2 Anderlecht
Pictured after the game with a loudspeaker in amongst the adoring home fans, Jordan Lukaku hadn’t a care in the world. He had just scored his first league goal – a spectacular strike in off the crossbar to finish a stunning counter-attack and KV Oostende had seen off Westerlo for a second successive win. There is little doubt that Romelu’s little brother is flourishing on the coast and he has hit the ground running this season. KVO are a club going places but there’s not the same pressure as Anderlecht and the exuberant Lukaku thrives in such an atmosphere, not blocked by more experienced players and not weighed down by the purple and white shirt. Banned from driving for a year after being clocked at more than 100mph, he channeled his lightning speed to devastating effect on Saturday evening. As he explained post-match, his phone went into overdrive and his exploits didn’t exactly go unnoticed by his big brother. Either side of Lukaku’s goal, Knowledge Musona won the battle of wits with opposition ‘keeper Koen van Langendonck and Frédéric Gounongbe netted a consolation. If Jordan and his fellow cast of ex-Anderlecht and Standard players maintain this form, they will be in with a shout when the top six places are being decided.
After much internal discussion, we decided to lead with Jordan Lukaku’s first goal and populism is no bad thing. At least not where new Standard Liège owner and chairman Bruno Venanzi is concerned. He is the antithesis of his predecessor Roland Duchâtelet – a born-and-bred Liègeois and riding a wave of popularity. How long the honeymoon period will last is anyone’s guess but when more than 20,000 supporters are not only united but this time behind the hierarchy of the club, there is no more intoxicating atmosphere in the country. Coach Slavo Muslin looked overwhelmed at kick-off. This was l’enfer du Sclessin (the hell of Sclessin) as it should be unlike the corresponding fixture against Zulte Waregem last season, which ground to a temporary halt owing to crowd unrest.
Eyong Enoh gave les Rouches an early lead with the help of a generous deflection. Essevee equalised through a wonderfully controlled volley from debutant Mame Thiam who is on loan from Juventus. New signing Anthony Knockaert shone once more and his wicked cross enabled Ivan Santini to score his first goal for the club to seal the three points. There were concerns late on when ex-Standardman Mbaye Leye suffered concussion after a collision with opposition goalkeeper Yohann Thuram, whose hospital visit that evening to the stricken forward showcased the best of football.
Muslin had one eye on this week’s Europa League tie against Zeljeznicar and his Club Brugge counterpart Michel Preud’homme was even more open about his priorities. Blauw-Zwart nevertheless showed real improvement on their early-season form to swot KV Mechelen aside. There was an element of fortune with Laurent Paulussen’s own goal as Duarte’s speculative shot was off-target before Abdoulay Diaby won and scored a penalty after the break . to double the advantage. Young winger Tuur Dierckx then confirmed his promising pre-season form with the third goal, calmly rounding Jean-François Gillet to cap a man-of-the-match display. Obbi Oulare may have missed a sitter but he posed a much more consistent threat up top than Tom De Sutter.
Anderlecht laboured for a long time against their near-neighbours OH Leuven with their play matching the hideous flourescent away strip. However, as OHL grew in confidence, they wilted in discipline and gaps opened up. Debutant substitute Imoh Ezekiel crossed for Idrissa Sylla to head home the opener and Youri Tielemans scored his second in as many weeks to put the game to bed. Ezekiel, Okaka and Suárez are yet to reach full fitness but they need their star-studded midfield to live up to its star billing. KAA Gent were far from convincing but managed to sneak past a Racing Genk side who had blunted them last season. With Sven Kums setting an underwhelming big-five clash from the spot, the champions are still to find the net from open play. Benito Raman, suspended for being out playing snooker too late, will be back next week to try to rectify that.
Yannick Ferrera’s Sint-Truiden join Anderlecht and KV Oostende with 100% records at the top after their wins over Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz. De Kanaries took a while to get into their stride in Mouscron but comedy capers at the back allowed Yannis Mbombo to put the visitors one up. A second-half red card (there should have been another early on) was shrugged off as the impressive Yohan Boli scored with a fine individual effort.
Perhaps the most entertaining encounter of the weekend came on Sunday afternoon at Lokeren, who shared the points and four goals against Charleroi. Ayanda Patosi has spoken of the more relaxed atmosphere under Peter Maes’ successor Bob Peeters and no-one could doubt Lokeren’s team spirit as they twice battled back from a goal down to earn a draw. Zèbres striker Roman Ferber opened the scoring with a solo goal and is one to keep an eye on this season. Waasland-Beveren bounced back from their near-miss in Brussels to defeat KV Kortrijk 2-1 at home. Steeven Langil was again impressive and W-B went two clear thanks to forwards Renaud Emond and Zinho Gano, one of many newcomers. Elohim Rolland made it interesting with his strike but Michel Lallemand spurned a late chance to return to West-Vlaanderen with a point.