JPL Matchday 26 Round Up: Standard triumph in Walloon derby
The first phase of the Pro League is coming to a close and teams are desperately trying to worm their way into the top six or out of the bottom two, or just trying to make sure they’re safe. Most teams have something to play for, but with just four matches to go some teams feel like they are in the clear or just don’t need to put the effort in any more. One team that can’t let up, even a little bit, is Standard Liége who – in the jump to Play Off 1 – will see their extravagant lead halved.
Sporting Charleroi 0-1 Standard Liége
Saying form goes out the window for a derby match is often cliché but in certain circumstances it is also completely true, the Walloon derby is one of those situations. Charleroi have been in free fall since selling nearly all of their biggest assets in January and by failing to adequately replace them are not in the best place to see results go their way. Combining this with the fact the two teams have shared 19 goals in their previous three encounters it is somewhat of a surprise that only one goal separated the two sides this time around.
Mehdi Carcela was in the right place at the right time after Igor De Camargo’s good work in the box saw saw his shot deflected out to the Moroccan and he side footed into a relatively empty net to give Standard the three points. It was a relatively even match though, with Standard expected to dominate the first chance of the game fell to last weeks goalscorer Enes Sağlık but the 22-year-old dragged his shot wide when he really should have done better.
Cedric Fauré thought he had won the home side a penalty after he came down in the box, but instead was yellow carded having handled the ball in the process. It was a close call, and while most referees would err on the side of caution and rule in favour of the defending team it could have been given on another day. Stergos Marinos made life more difficult for Standard, with the game still goalless two clumsy challenges – non-malicious but late and reckless – saw the Greek sent off. Despite the man disadvantage Charleroi could still have snatched a point late on but Thiare’s front post header was off target.
Club Brugge 3-1 Kortrijk
With a Friday night match, Club Brugge had a golden opportunity to put the pressure on Standard at the head of the table and did not disappoint. Despite being second in the table, Club Brugge have not been in impeccable form this season and have had a few false starts under Michel Preud’homme but they were golden in their match against Kortrijk this week. It’s no real surprise that when Maxime Lestienne is on form, the whole team plays well and it was Lestienne who was felled in the area by goalkeeper Darren Keet to give Brugge their first of what would be two penalties after a suicidal pass back from Heylen. It was Timmy Simons, captain of the club, who stepped up to take the penalty and sent Keet the wrong way to get Club Brugge off to an impressive start.
Club Brugge continued to enjoy the majority of possession and seemed pretty content to run the game how the liked, and into the second half it was Lestienne who doubled the score when he popped up at the back post unmarked. Leaving an opposing player unmarked in the penalty area isn’t the smartest move but leaving a player as talented as Lestienne is just downright stupid and he made Kortrijk pay as he smashed the ball into the roof of the net. His celebration left a bit to be desired, showing the crowd his back as did the old fashioned thumb point to his name – only to be found pointing at one of the club’s sponsors in Belfius Bank.
It was just after the hour mark when Lestienne was felled in the box for the second time, this time by Capon although contact was probably initially made outside the area. It mattered not, as Timmy Simons once again sent Keet the wrong way to make it 3-0 to Club Brugge who were looking the most cohesive under Michiel Preud’homme they’d looked since his takeover.
The only sour note for Club Brugge came near the end as Jorgensen’s attempt to stop a cross wound up with him deflecting the ball into his own goal to give Kortrijk a consolation goal.
Waasland-Beveren 1-0 OH
One of the biggest matches of both teams season got off to a frantic start as OH Leuven winger Mohamed Messoudi glanced a well worked move just wide with a sweeping right footed strike and then Bjorn Ruytinx’s long range effort dipped just wide of the post as OH Leuven started with intent to stay out of the relegation play off. Not long later and Igor Tričkovski went down the other end and forced a big save from Logan Bailly to deny him his second goal of the season, before the Belgian reproduced a similar stop to deny Robin Henkens.
Bailly’s busy first half was just a sign of things to come and it continued into the second half as he stretched one handed to turn away Trickovski’s curling effort as the Macedonian continued to be given time to get his head up and shoot by the OH Leuven defence. Kenny Thompson then thought he’d scored for the away side but not to be outdone by his counterpart Coosemans was down low to save in a match that may look short of attacking quality but in fact was seeing two goalkeepers at their peak. Bailly then denied Aboubakar Oumarou‘s close range header that almost had overtones of David Seaman’s acrobatic stop from Paul Peschisolido many years ago as he reached behind to claw the ball off the line and keep the match finely poised. Bailly was finally breached as Oumarou escaped attention from Thompson to diving header Blondelle’s teasing ball into the net and give Waasland-Beveren perhaps their most important goal of the season to date. It was the only goal in a game that saw some fantastic goalkeeping saves, especially from Bailly whose heroics kept his side in the game up until 10 minutes to go.
Zulte Waregem 2-1 Cercle Brugge
Zulte Waregem managed to keep up the pressure on the leaders with a much needed 2-1 win over Cercle Brugge. Looking at how the club would cope without the instrumental Thorgan Hazard, who transfermarkt.de recently valued at 10m Euros, the joint highest in the league with Club Brugge’s Maxime Lestienne. Zulte Waregem didn’t seem to suffer much in the way of setbacks as Bobley Anderson started his first match for the club and Raphael Caceres and Ibrahima Conte started out wide. It perhaps lacked the firepower a Hazard side might have but as Kums dragged the ball back for Carceres to easily tap the ball in from close range Hazard was the last thought on the fans minds.
Essevee could have doubled the lead immediately as Carceres had more luck attacking the left wing of Cercle, but Cercle Brugge instantly went down the other side of the pitch and equalised as Junior Kabanaga‘s miss hit bounced off the crossbar, fell into his path again and he tapped it in from a yard out for probably the most bizarre goal of the weekend. Cercle had a great opportunity to take the lead but Kabanaga didn’t make the most of a 3 on 2 opportunity trying to go alone and allowed Bossut to get back and claim the ball. They were made to rue the chance as Bobley Anderson’s free kick evaded everyone but goalkeeper Delle could only push the ball into Karel D’Haene‘s path and the defender swept it home for the winner ten minutes from the end.
Gent 1-1 Lokeren
Gent knew if they were to give themselves a chance of finishing in the top six then they needed to beat Lokeren at the GHELAMCO-Arena on Sunday afternoon. After doing well to keep the ball in, Diabate got the touch before right back Galitsios and then proceeded to launch himself over the defender and to the ground. He looked to be in some pain for a short while, moreso due to his acrobatic tumble than anything. Renato Neto sent Copa the wrong way in goal to give Gent the lead. Kaya and Persoons had good opportunities to get back into it and Sels saved well from Scholz to preserve Gents slender lead.
The second half began in fiery style as Copa and Dejaeghere clashed for a 50/50 ball. Lepoint rolled the free ball into the net but the whistle had already gone for the foul on the keeper. As Dejaeghere sat on the floor, Copa jumped up, irate at a careless strike to the back of his head. In a fit of rage, he pushed the Gent player, grabbed the back of his head, threw himself to the floor and did a quick firemans roll before jumping back to his feet and continuing to hold the back of his head. He was escorted away by his own players but just moments after the match restart returned to the floor with a shoulder injury and was subsequently substituted. Copa retains his title as the leagues most eccentric player. Lokeren continued to push for the equaliser and in the 92nd minute substitute Hamdi Harbaoui was on hand to glance a corner into the goal for a probably deserved equaliser.
Anderlecht 2-0 Mons
Anderlecht went into the match five points behind Club Brugge after they had won two nights prior. Ronald Vargas had a free kick well saved early on for the hosts before Sacha Klještan opened the scoring after some good play on the left from Anderlecht he rose highest to head the ball in from Oli Deschacht’s cross; asserting Anderlecht’s dominance after a nervy opener which saw Chatelle get a half chance early on for Mons.
Scorer turned provider as Klještan chested through for Vargas who got goal side of Dussenne and hit an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net from close range. Chatelle had a good effort in the second half well saved, Cyriac, who started ahead of Pollet and Mitrovic, had a volley fly over before an acrobatic overhead narrowly missed. Anderlecht were worthy winners but gave Mons some openings that perhaps a better team would have taken including a bizarre corner where it was unclear if Dussenne headed it goalwards or Deschacht nearly scored an unfortunate own goal if not for the crossbar.
Lierse SK 0-1 Genk
Genk did well to stop an in form Lierse team who have played with a renewed vigour since the winter break. They have probably done enough since the winter break to assure their survival in the league but would have spied a match with a struggling and freefalling Genk side as a possible three points. Mario Been’s men have struggled to string positive results together and the usually collected Dutch coach has looked on the brink of losing his job for sometime now, Genk have stuck with their man for the time being and with Jelle Vossen leading the line are always capable of beating anybody.
The match was played at a pretty dull pace. Genk could have really used the win but their cushion between themselves and seventh and the games left to play probably mean they are reasonably assured of making the top six. Then they can look to rebuild next season after a tumultuous season this year. In the absence of Thomas Buffel, Benjamin De Ceulaer took on the job as pantomine villain as he irked the crowd with niggly fouls, a handball and a horror challenge on Wils that could have seen him sent off. As it was the best chance of the game probably fell to Sekhoe Cisse but he dragged his shot horribly wide with only the goalkeeper to beat. The goal, when it came, was unsurprisingly pretty unspectacular. Julien Gorius‘ long range shot went through myriad of bodies and if Berezeovskiy’s intention was to impersonate a statue then he performed it with aplomb as the shot bounced and bobbled its way in. It was a harsh result for Lierse who probably didn’t deserve to lose the match on the whole, but with neither team showing much initiative it capped off a pretty forgettable match from both sides.
Mechelen 1-1 KV Oostende
Mechelen and Oostende both look set for a safe finish to the season, odds on to finish in mid table with only a hint of being dragged into the relegation fight. Aleksandar Trajkovski gave Mechelen the lead just before half time with a free kick from inside the penalty area ‘D’ that was fired into the top corner with terrifying pace. There wasn’t a lot of quality on show and chances were few and far between and often limited to set piece situations. Mokulu was incorrectly ruled offside when through on goal but the players indifferent form mean predicting a goal difficult, regardless of the situation. Mechelen were probably worth the win so when Fede Vico‘s cross flew straight in the back post it will have been difficult for Mechelen to take. The match finished 1-1, a result both teams would probably have taken before kick off and will reinforce the likelihood of both teams playing in PO2 in a months time.