Racing Genk 2-0 Cercle Brugge: The late late show decides the Belgian Cup final
Racing Genk have won their fourth Cofidis Cup from four finals with a 2-0 win over Cercle Brugge thanks to late goals from Bennard Kumordzi and captain Jelle Vossen.
Mario Been restored Jeroen Simaeys and Derrick Tshimanga to the back four while Julien Gorius was on the bench as the Dutchman went for Hyland-Kumordzi in central midfield. Lorenzo Staelens named his strongest side only to see veteran leftback Bernt Evens injure himself in the warm-up, meaning Rudy had to be drafted in at the last minute.
Staelens had said just before the game that if Genk were leading, he may take the opportunity to rest some of his players for the remaining play-off games. However, if anyone expected Cercle to turn up solely to make up the numbers, they were mistaken. The rank outsiders played with the spirit instilled in them by Staelens since his appointment last month and once again Michael Uchebo was fired up for the big occasion.
In an open game, it was nevertheless Genk who had the first real sight of goal. Jelle Vossen’s cross found centreback Kalidou Koulibaly, who headed straight at Bram Verbist. France under-21 international Koulibaly was involved again, when Rudy sped past him only to fire wide of the near post. De Ceulaer and Joseph-Monrose were both denied by Verbist as Genk found it easier to create goalscoring opportunities, if not to score.
There was a heartstopping moment for Cercle fans when Verbist’s clearance crashed into Vossen but fortunately for Cercle, the ball ricocheted away from danger and Cercle could recover. Vossen then shot low at the goalkeeper but the captain was far from his best in the opening 45.
Both sides emerged unchanged for the second half and while Cercle looked comfortable with the ball, Genk created the first serious opening after the break when Simaeys flung himself at Monrose’s back post cross and headed wide. Genk were starting to become more adept at finding the gaps down the channels but Monrose again showed he does not always have the finesse, crossing and decision making to match his pace and power.
Cercle weathered the storm and betrayed their positive intentions by introducing Mushaga Bakenga in place of Boi. Been also took his chance to shuffle the pack by bringing Barda and Plet on for De Ceulaer and the infuriating Monrose but clear cut chances evaded both sides. Given that extra time was not in either side’s interest with crucial games coming this Sunday, both sides had plenty of motivation to push for a winner.
The seemingly elusive winning goal arrived six minutes from the end of normal time and it came from a set-piece. Khaleem Hyland floated a Genk free kick into the penalty area and midfielder Bennard Kumordzi jumped magnificently between Cornelis and Carvalho to head beyond Verbist.
Once Genk had broken the deadlock, it was clear that they were not going to let the match slip. Gaps opened up at the back and Thomas Buffel slid the ball in to Jelle Vossen. The Genk captain kept his cool and deftly dinked the ball over an advancing Verbist to put the icing on the cake. The two ex-Cercle men had combined for Genk and Mario Been rewarded Vossen with a late substitution in order for the striker to receive a standing ovation from the 30,000 Genk fans.
Cercle acquitted themselves well and it took Genk a long time to get over the line. They have improved immeasurably under Staelens and will fancy maintaining their Pro League status. The Genk team said beforehand they would dedicate any win to those who have been laid off at Ford’s factory in Genk and their families. In a purely sporting context, Genk have now won more trophies than any Belgian team, other than Anderlecht, in the last fifteen years. Congratulations, Félicitations, Proficiat Mario Been and Racing Genk.