Lokeren 2-3 Zulte Waregem: Davy De fauw inspires a stunning comeback

Zulte Waregem’s most unlikely of title challenges looked dead in the water when they trailed 2-0 but their captain Davy De fauw was nothing short of inspirational as they fought back to win 2-3 in Lokeren.  Francky Dury came out on top in the battle of two of the three nominees for Manager of the Year.

Dury named his strongest side, restoring Jonathan Delaplace and Steve Colpaert to the starting eleven. Peter Maes recalled Alexander Corryn at leftback in place of Hassan El Mouataz

Thorgan Hazard volleys over for Zulte Waregem. He set up his side's equaliser.

Thorgan Hazard volleys over for Zulte Waregem. He set up his side’s equaliser.

Chances were few and far between in the opening twenty minutes. Franck Berrier shot wide from the edge of the box and Lokeren wasted a great opportunity when they were guilty of overplaying. Nill De Pauw opted for one pass too many back to Hamdi Harbaoui when it would have better to go for the shot. Thorgan Hazard then volleyed over from Delaplace’s cross and Junior Malanda was fortunate not be penalised for a push inside the box.

Moments later, Joeri van de Velde did give Lokeren a penalty. Ivan Leko swung the free kick into the area and Bruno Godeau was guilty of pulling the shirt of Jérémy Taravel. On his 100th league appearance for Lokeren, Swiss centreback Mijat Maric stepped up to the plate and sent Sammy Bossut the wrong way from the spot to put Lokeren into the lead.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors five minutes before the break. Nill De Pauw’s ball was met by Hamdi Harbaoui, who sprang the offside trap. The Tunisian striker showed his class by finishing first time beyond Bossut, chipping the ball into the net beyond the Zulte Waregem goalkeeper. Regular readers will know I often sing his praises.

Thorgan Hazard went close with a couple of free kicks but Zulte Waregem were two down at the break and seemingly out of the game – and the title race. Dury acted decisively at the break, bringing Verboom and Naessens on for Godeau and playmaker Berrier.

Hamdi Harbaoui keeps his composure to put Lokeren 2-0 up but it was all downhill from there.

Hamdi Harbaoui keeps his composure to put Lokeren 2-0 up but it was all downhill from there.

It took ten minutes for Lokeren’s lead to be cut in half. Substitute Bryan Verboom crossed from the left-hand side and his ball was met by an unmarked Davy De fauw at the back post ; the captain heading back across goal and beyond Lazic. Perhaps a touch complacent due to their lead, they failed to pick either player up from a free kick, which was taken short.

The inevitable wave of pressure came and fifteen minutes later, Zulte Waregem equalised in slightly controversial circumstances. Mbaye Leye was offside in the build up as he attempted a diving header. The ball found its way to Thorgan Hazard, who played a peach of a ball onto the head of Junior Malanda who made no mistake. Two Belgian under-21 international teammates had combined to devastating effect.

Shortly after, a foul from Mijat Maric gave Essevee a free kick within striking distance. De fauw was teed up by his teammates and he curled the ball around the wall and into the bottom corner. Lazic may feel he could have done better but nevertheless the goal capped a magnificent and more pertinently, a vital comeback from Dury’s men.

Lokeren introduced Milos Maric and Dutra but their attempts to rescue a pointwere in vain. For the umpteenth occasion, Zulte Waregem were written off, almost solely on the basis of their name. Far more important is the level of play and the results they have produced on a consistent basis since the start of the season. They may well need Genk to do them a favour tomorrow (and Standard – Club Brugge will be another crucial fixture) but had you given any Essevee fan this state of affairs with two games to play, they’d have either laughed at you or called for the men in white coats.

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