Racing Genk 1-1 Zulte Waregem: What might have been for Essevee
Two games into the play-offs and still no-one is taking the championship race by the scruff of the neck. Zulte Waregem had the better of this 1-1 draw away to Genk but their lack of ruthlessness in front of goal cost them two extra points.
Mario Been, in the stands due a touchline ban, unsurprisingly preferred Julien Gorius to Bennard Kumordzi in the middle of the park and Kara continued to deputise for the suspended Kalidou Koulibaly. Francky Dury again named Sébastien Bruzzese in goal and not Sammy Bossut, whose future at the club is still under a cloud.
The match came to life when Zulte Waregem took the lead in the ninth minute. Kara’s clearing header went to Davy De fauw, who controlled the ball before rifling a low shot past Köteles from 25 yards for his first strike of the season. The Magyar goalkeeper may have been unsighted but he was never getting anywhere near it in any instance.
Genk responded well to going behind by equalising just after the quarter-hour. Anele opened up the Zulte Waregem midfield and kept his run going after laying the ball off. It meant that the South African was perfectly placed (and unmarked given the unexpected nature of his presence in the box) to head home Tshimanga’s cross past an unmoved Bruzzese. It was the first away goal Essevee had conceded in the first 30 minutes all season.
Benji De Ceulaer was the recipient of a neat ball forward from Vossen but the ex-Lokeren man played his square ball fractionally behind Monrose, thus giving Bruzzese the time to vacate his goal and make the save. Gorius volleyed over but it was De fauw had the best chance of the remainder of the opening 45 after a clever pass from Hazard but Köteles just about kept the ball out having almost made a mess of the shot.
Ten minutes into the second half, the industry and persistence of unsung hero Jonathan Delaplace led to a perfect cross onto the head of Mbaye Leye, who headed miles over from just six yards out. Leye does an admirable job upfront for Zulte Waregem but that miss highlighted the lack of a genuine goalscorer available to Francky Dury. The statistic below proves the point:
@goalgary Zulte Waregem have scored 24 less goals in the penalty area than Anderlecht this season.
— VisionDuJeu (@eyeofthegame) April 7, 2013
The most impressive thing about Zulte Waregem in my eyes is that they always look like they’re one of the top clubs – they don’t play
like plucky underdogs and are mentally resilient, more so than some sides who should be more adept at lasting the course over a season. They continued to pose something of a threat and Malanda headed a Berrier cross wide before Colpaert headed a corner straight at Köteles.
Vossen’s header was tipped over by Bruzzese but Genk were finding it harder to fashion openings than their supposedly less illustrious opponents. A smart counter-attack culminated in Malanda, whose passing wasn’t at its best today, striking hard at goal, only to see Köteles beat his shot away.
Mario Been introduced Elyaniv Barda, who was once again underused for a player of his class (he’s not one of the best paid in the Pro League for nothing) but while Genk had a good spell towards the end of normal time, Zulte Waregem stood firm. The visitors had the better chances but their lack of a cutting edge in attack looks set to cost them an historic maiden league title, despite the well documented struggles of Anderlecht.
PO1: Anderlecht 35, Zulte Waregem 34, Racing Genk 32, Club Brugge 30, Standard Liège 29, Lokeren 27.