With a tough night, a result for either of the Belgian sides would’ve been a tough ask. Going by this morning’s post, Genk’s dreadful form in Spain and Anderlecht facing Manchester United, hope was needed, luck and a whole lot of effort!
On a switch up from yesterday, I’m starting with De Smurfen, as Genk had a difficult away tie against Celta. For me, and them, a score draw would be fantastic and an away win would be unbelievable. And with the early exchanges, the dream start came through young Dutchman Jean–Paul Boetius, picked out by Leandro Trossard. But…There is such thing as scoring too early. Celta took just 5 minutes to respond through Pione Sisto. After that, Celta took control of the half as Iago Aspas completed the turnaround. All of this before the twenty minute mark. In quite an evenly contested half, it was a case of who’d take their chances, and the Swede John Guidetti added a goal to his earlier assist to make it 3-1 before the half, making the rest of the game and the tie look beyond Genk’s reach.
With the game toing and froing, still an evenly fought second half, but with time ticking, could Genk get themselves back into the tie, let alone the match? And they did! Thomas Buffel showing his experience and with that, taking charge and being the example, bringing another goal back to the Luminus Arena! 3-2 to the Spaniards with just over 20 minutes to go. Game On!
With the clock ticking away, this result is positive due to the away goals, and at home, Genk can be formidable and can go through which would be unreal and brilliant no matter how you look at it!
Meanwhile closer to home, Anderlecht had possibly an even tougher task against Man United. All the talk in England was about how many Manchester United would get which I thought was a bit patronising, with the only 2 players brought to the English audience being Tielemans and Dendoncker. The difference between this match and Genk’s going by the stats is that this wasn’t as even. The Red Devils controlled the chances and possession. To hold out for ninety minutes would be a big ask even at home, but one of United’s major signings of many on the night Henrik Mkhitaryan netted, grabbing that vital away goal late in the first half. Hopefully Rene Weiler can spring a surprise in the second half!
With the second half kicking off, Les Mauves would’ve preferred a quick response if that were possible, but that wasn’t to come. They needed to do something, although a 1 goal deficit to take to England isn’t awful, just not the best. The problem is, Jose Mourinho can be magnificent in Europe, home and away, and a defensive masterclass from United would probably thrill him as much, if not more, than the win. But magnificently, the aforementioned Dendoncker sprung up to net a vital equaliser in the 86th minute, creating a grandstand finish, and if not that, a scintillating away leg at Old Trafford!
A fantastic draw for Anderlecht, where I previously said they were written off in England, they proved a lot in Europe wrong, and a lot to themselves squaring up and taking on a huge team and equalling them!
A wonderful night all round!