This weekend showed a lot more of the Pro Leagues defensive side…In some cases. Some nervous displays on show in my opinion, and with the teams taking victories, they may feel they don’t have as much to lose as those fighting or being expected to fight within the play offs.
In play off 1, I feel this proves my point. Of course I may be, and probably am wrong, but every team gained one point in their push for the title of Europe. Friday saw Oostende draw with a last minute header from Franck Berrier. Before that though, a magnificent goal from Henrik Dalsgaard from a full 25 yards looked good enough to win any match.
Saturday saw the champions slip up at home. After another barren first half, Wesley seemed to surprise Nicolas Penneteau, with a pot shot just outside the box. The keeper didn’t even dive! But, a stupid handball conceded a penalty, and without Harbaoui, replacement striker Chris Bedia nervously dispatched the penalty through a fumbling Butelle.
To round up play off 1, a 0-0 at the Constant Vanden Stock between Anderlecht and Gent occured. Anderlecht look to be the big winners although another win would’ve helped greatly. I guess no points dropped is better than a loss all round!
In PO2A, Beveren were frankly torn apart by Union Saint Gilloise, losing 4-1 at home. Terrible defending and really good play was the undoing of Beveren. Good football out wide for the first goal saw an opening created and a low cross from Rajsel could’ve picked out 2 free players 6 yards out, with Gertjan Martens sliding the ball home. Beveren actually equalised through Zinho following up from a shot outside the box, and that’s the best it got for the home team. Charles Morren restored the lead with a goal that looked like he had free reign on goal, scoring in at the front post. A third goal scored was simply a good goal, shooting across the goalkeeper from Aoulad before Rajsel again scored another goal, smashing in an effort from around 35 yards, without exaggeration, hitting the under side of the bar and going in. Boos at half time and full time doesn’t look good for Waasland-Beveren going into the run in!
Following that, Liege drew at home with Sint Truiden where they had to come back from a goal down before losing their own lead, and again not taking 3 points. Calamitous defending from a set piece saw Sint Truiden take the lead through loanee Brandon Mechele. Ishak Belfodil replied through a free header from a corner 8 minutes before half time. The turnaround was complete through Romanian youngster Roman Razvan lashing home, but after Darwin Andrade saw red with time ticking away, Truiden equalised with the second last minute goal of the weekend, where a goal line scramble reached Pieter Gerkins who took advantage of a nerve jangling defence. 2-2 will not be good enough for Standard Liege.
Lastly, Mechelen left it late to get their first 3 points of the play offs, nicking a late 1-0 through centre back Uros Vitas! Mechelen will just be happy to take a win no matter how, whereas Lierse will surely be disappointed, yet still buoyant playing, in my opinion, the 2 toughest teams in this group.
Now for PO2B, even Genk showed nerves with a late goal made in Spain away at Roeselare. Pozuelo, of course, at the heart of it, played in compatriot Naranjo, who tried to return the favour, but unfortunately for the hosts, the ball rebounded back to the striker who had an open goal to show how well Genk have played in recent weeks, making their own luck.
Eupen showed how they could be dark horses like I said last week, scoring a goal either side of the break away at Mouscron. Henry Onyekuru, of course again, put the visitors in front with a fine effort inside the box. Mamadou Sylla sealed the win with a strike in off the bar from a low cross from Eric Ocansey out wide. Poor defending was the hosts undoing and I do feel they have downed tools, looking ahead to next season.
To end Lokeren drew 0-0 at home against Kortrijk. A vast improvement on last weeks appalling 4-0 away loss to Genk, but I’m sure the team from the Daknamstadion would’ve felt before the match that De Kerels were there for the taking.
An underwhelming match day this round with Union, again, being the highlight, but it has been a long season and maybe it’s taking its toll? I’ll be discussing this Tuesday!