I had to have goals in the title this week with 26 chances taken in the Pro League this weekend, with the most coming Friday night as Club Brugge absolutely demolished Zulte-Waregem.
I really thought this would be tighter than the scoreline suggests, but total capitulation is all that happened instead. The match was dominated from top to bottom by the champions who may feel they have to start turning on the style like Anderlecht have done recently. Goals from Vormer (2), Izquierdo and Bjorn Engels before half time killed off the match. Waregem started Gueye and Leye and probably fancied their chances, but obviously nothing happened at all, as Jelle Vossen completed the scoring midway through the second half from the penalty spot. Maybe with Brugge being out of Europe, this could help out long term ahead of their title rivals, but only time will tell.
Going into Saturday, the games were just as entertaining as the night before. The only match that came close was the last of the evening, as Oostende dismantled Westerlo, where the home team were just blown away by the Belgian Cup finalists. After a first half which may have given Westerlo hope, that was dashed as Daniel Christensen conceded a penalty and Nany Dimata showed no mercy, making it 1-0. With that said, it wasn’t until the last 15 minutes til it all fell apart, with Musona, Jonckheere and Marusic ended the scoring.
Before then, three matches took place, starting with Charleroi showing their class against St Truiden who showed great courage, but were thwarted 3 minutes before time with Hamdi Harbaoui getting on the end of a Clement Tainmont assist. Charleroi have been fantastic recently, only winning or losing by the odd goal since Boxing Day, and only losing twice in 2017, both away to Gent and Club Brugge which isn’t bad at all.
The last two matches Saturday involved 2 teams on a high, securing their league status in Waasland-Beveren and Eupen, visiting Kortrijk and Lokeren who haven’t been fantastic on a consistent note for a little while really. I said on Friday I felt the away pairing would make the matches competitive and I believed they may have both taken all three points, and they did.
The match at the Guldensporenstadion was done and dusted in 5 second half minutes. Alessandro Cerigioni netted a brace either side of an Idriss Saadi effort to make sure Beveren went back to the Freethiel with all three points. In the other match, maybe the best team lost as Lokeren couldn’t take advantage against 10 man Eupen, who have shown amazing spirit in recent weeks. Ibrahim Diallo received his marching order just before the half hour which may have spelled the end for the pandas, but around ten minutes later, Eupen struck through Eric Ocansey. However, Lokeren replied the only way they could just four minutes later through experienced Swiss defended Mijat Maric. With the game coming to a close, another late strike by the great Nigerian youngster Henry Onyekuru made sure that goal, along with his assist, meant Eupen would again take all 3 points. With that result Eupen have now jumped over Lokeren in the table.
On Sunday, three fantastic matches took place starting with Eupen’s local rivals Standard Liege taking on Mechelen in a bit of a to-and-fro of a match. Standard took the lead through Kosanovic 5 minutes before the break. With that goal you’d think Liege would see out the half, but Mats Rits had something to say about that, not only scoring on half time, but coming out and turning the game on its head making it 2-1 early in the second half.
Les Rouches fans must’ve been spitting feathers, even if Mechelen’s form has been good of late, they’d feel they’d probably still win. But a win isn’t what they got. Thankfully for them Orlando Sa continued his good recent form striking five minutes after Rits to share the spoils.
With more goals in the early match, Anderlecht would’ve taken anything after Brugge’s magnificent result Friday night, and the result never looked in doubt with a straightforward 2-0 win over fellow midweek Europa League winners Genk. Youri Tielemans again being the main difference, firstly by assisting centre half Kara Mbodji, and then sealing the victory five minutes into the second half. Looking at the stats, it goes to show, and most people know this anyway, that that extra bit of quality can be the difference when winning a match, as it was tighter than the result suggests.
The final match of the weekend was a bit of a formality as Tottenham’s conquerers Gent hosted bottom side Mouscron. Mouscron could’ve taken advantage of Westerlo’s drubbing the night before, but it would’ve been a huge task against a confident Gent. Samuel Kalu killed the game plan for the visitors after a 7 minute strike, and then the returning Yuya Kubo settled the match on the half hour. Perbet then put the icing on the cake 7 minutes into the second half, until a late goal by half time substitute Luka Stojanovic was merely a consolation.
The league looks like it consists of mini groups vying for the title, Europe and survival. Not long til the league separates and until then, teams are either already on the beach, or focussed on what lies ahead.