JPL Round 6: Carcela return the icing on the cake for Standard
As the clock counted down to the final whistle, Standard Liège coach Guy Luzon was shown beaming on the touchline and punching the air before confirmation of the 2-0 win over KV Kortrijk. Luzon has plenty to be smiling about – his team sit top of the league with six wins from six, they are yet to concede a goal, they have qualified for the group stage of the Europa League with a favourable draw to boot and to top it all off, the club brought back Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez from an unhappy spell with Anji Makhachkala in Russia.
Carcela was unveiled just before the kick-off and put the 23,000-strong crowd in the perfect mood to cheer les Rouches on to another victory. Also wanted by AS Roma, his acquisition is a serious statement of intent from Roland Duchâtelet and marks the end of what appears to be a very successful window, much more so than had been feared by many. Indeed, some of Duchâtelet’s most vocal critics are claiming that the pressure they exerted spurred the businessman and former Sint-Truiden owner into action. Luzon somewhat bizarrely called his chairman “the best in Belgium” but he’s correct when he says that Carcela is yet another outstanding wide player to add to the squad and few players in Belgium possess his combination of speed and trickery. If he can find the net with the regularity of his final season at the club, Standard will, at the very least, be very close to regaining the title. Carcela’s joy at his return is certainly a far cry from when he was knocked out by Chris Mavinga more than two years ago now on what proved to be his final appearance before he went to Russia.
The game itself was a straightforward affair for the early pace setters. Kortrijk showed little ambition throughout and Standard took the lead at the start of the second half when Brecht Capon conceded a penalty for handball. Paul-José Mpoku, who has rightly attracted interest from several clubs, tucked away the resulting spot kick. Laurent Ciman made sure of the win with a header as Kortrijk had the stuffing knocked out of them. Hein Vanhaezebrouck was unhappy about the penalty decision but admitted his strikers had an off-day.
So good was the game later in the day between Zulte Waregem and Anderlecht that we had to dedicate an impromptu match report to the goings on in Gaverbeek, which you can find here.
Club Brugge are sitting level on points with Essevee but they are not resting on their laurels in the transfer market. Winger Waldemar Sobota and striker Kehinde Fatai have arrived but Eidur Gudjohnsen has been told to pack his bags and find a new club. The veteran Icelandic international has never truly fitted in since he swapped Cercle Brugge for Club. He had often operated wide with Bacca and Lestienne the main men. This season, he returned to pre-season training overweight and has since failed to attain the required level of fitness. Furthermore, he regularly flies back to see his family who remain in Barcelona but despite all that, he insists he is waiting for Garrido to get the chop. On the field, they ran out unconvincing 1-2 winners away to Waasland-Beveren, who gave a much more spirited performance. A major defensive blunder in the first minute let Maxime Lestienne open the scoring. Jesper Jørgensen, whose move to NEC broke down, added a second before W-B pulled a goal back in injury time courtesy of Siebe Blondelle. Their coach Glen De Boeck bemoaned an unjust red card, a penalty that wasn’t given and a disallowed goal with the club’s Twitter account saying such is the fate that befalls the smaller teams. After the game, Vadis and Lestienne were seen to be arguing but the club have drawn a line under the incident.
Racing Genk dropped two points in Charleroi on Sunday night after a 1-1 draw. Les Zèbres took the lead through their impressive striker David Pollet. It was amazing to hear the commentator criticise him for scoring “just” six goals last term given he joined one of the lesser lights of the league more than halfway through the season. He already has four to his name this time around. Ilombé Mboyo, Genk’s record buy, equalised with an excellent low finish to silence his critics at Charleroi, who still bear a grudge for the manner in which he left the erratically managed club. Genk lost reported Middlesbrough target Jelle Vossen to injury in the second half and he will be out for a few weeks.
We have made much of KAA Gent‘s wonderful new Ghelamco Arena and thus far, the new stadium is not proving to be a burden at all. De Buffalo’s won their third home game in succession with a deserved 1-0 victory over Enzo Scifo’s struggling Mons. New Danish striker Nicklas Pedersen settled the destination of the three points with a controversial first-half penalty when Soumahoro dived inside the box. While a clean sheet will be a welcome relief to Victor Fernández who was missing his first-choice centreback pairing, they’ll be disappointed not to have gone to town on a Mons side reduced to ten men in the second half. Mons have had difficulty attracting their preferred targets in the window and need a win next time out at home to Waasland-Beveren.
KV Mechelen and Lierse served up a scoreless draw in the derby but we were at least treated to a boisterous atmosphere thanks to both sets of fans even if it got a little bit out of hand. Carl Hoefkens said it was one of the best he had experienced in his long career. Seth De Witte had a goal wrongly ruled out for KVM. Lierse have brought in Celtic striker Tony Watt on loan – he is most famous for scoring the winner against Barcelona in the Champions League. Lokeren returned to winning ways with a 1-0 win over KV Oostende. It won’t surprise anyone that Hamdi Harbaoui scored the winner. KVO have just confirmed the signing of Franck Berrier today and while the Frenchman is as good an orchestrator as any in the Pro League, a move to the coast isn’t exactly a dream come true. In the final game, Cercle Brugge drew 1-1 with OHL. Gregory Mertens’ penalty was saved by former Belgium goalkeeper Logan Bailly but Gaël Etock’s equaliser cancelled out OH Leuven‘s early opener, which came through Ngolok.