Rather than doing my group by group write up, sometimes directly after the matches, I’ve decided to do one big block of results. And I should’ve learned by now, sometimes my predictions on each match rarely works out. The Pro League once again served up some scorelines I just wouldn’t predict and that’s what makes this league fascinating sometimes!
Play Off 1
Friday served up a fantastic match where one man stole the show on the night, Jose Izquierdo. A hat trick from the Colombian rounded off a great night for the reigning champions, which put them 1 point behind Anderlecht going into their match on Sunday evening. Ethan Horvath became the first American to play for Club Brugge on the night, and after a calamitous way of conceding Charleroi’s goal though Pollet, he was as important as Izquierdo! At the end you could see how vital this result may end up being as we get closer to the end for both teams, especially the visitors whose reaction was of determination and fight.
Anderlecht’s response was clinical and professional. Goals from Chipciu and a last minute settler from Thelin sealed a home win for Les Mauves. Anderlecht keep proving that they are capable of taking this title from next weeks opposition Club Brugge, and speaking of next week, Anderlecht can seal the title with a win which would be incredible taking the title away from the Jan Breydel Stadion literally and figuratively.
The match sandwiched in between the two above was a 7 goal spectacular, however, the spectacular thing really was the visitors defending! Gent took the lead through a cross come shot from Kenny Saief, looping over William Dutoit. But then Sebastian Siani, well…didn’t exactly strike an equaliser, but more rebounded it in if that makes sense? Stefan Mitrovic stroked home a fine free kick 10 minutes into the second half until Oostende blitzed De Buffalo’s through a header from Marusic, although poor defending and goalkeeping was to blame, then a fine strike from Berrier completed the turnaround until Rozenhal struck the winner through absent defending, tapping into an empty net whilst left unmarked. Yuya Kubo scored a fine goal through hard work, endeavour and movement with ten minutes to play, but it ended 4-3 at the Versluys Arena in a great match for goals!
Gent, Oostende and Charleroi are basically playing off for the Europa League play off place as Zulte Waregem seem hapless, and Anderlecht and Brugge are fighting for the title now!
Play Off 2A
I’ve said numerous times that this group is THE group in terms of who will progress? Many teams have led this group throughout these 7 matches so far and once again there is a new leader!
All down to Mechelen’s inability to stop crosses and then defend from them. Zinho was extremely happy about that, capitalising from Mechelen’s poor defending, stroking home 2 efforts either side of the break. Mechelen actually sandwiched a goal between Gano’s efforts with a cross is their own which freakishly lashed in at the front post. An own goal by Valtteri Moren in which he was unfortunate to score. But Beveren looked assured I’m themselves and rounded off the win through Jens Cools in the last minute.
With that said, could Union Saint Gilloise or Sint Truiden take advantage. Unfortunately the former couldn’t. Travelling to Lierse they were hoping to exact revenge from a few days ago. After a goalless first half, Lierse showed more in front of goal, with Jonas Vinck lashing home their first, and then another mental own goal by Tracy Mpati looked to put Lierse in a comfortable position. However, with 20 minutes to go, Mohammed Aoulad leathered home, pulling one goal back and maybe starting the turnaround. But that didn’t happen and to make things worse, Geoffrey Cabake saw red in the last minute.
With this match finished, Sint Truiden looked to be holding on against Standard Liege at the Staaien. Because Sint Truiden had a 30 minutes head start in someway, they knew what to do once they heard the USG result and had half an hour to do something about it! And that they did. A huge up and under upfield was chased down and eventually retrieved by Vetokele. His first effort was saved, but with supporting team!area he picked out, who else, and to be honest, somebody I tipped to leave STVV this summer because of his form, Pieter Gerkens!
STVV top the group with 3 more matches remaining! I would never have thought they’d get to this position and now it’s up to them to hold on to what they have!
Play Off 2B
With this group becoming a non event, even those ‘challenging’ Genk decided to let themselves down once more in my opinion. Technically every team could qualify except for Roeselare before a ball was kicked on Saturday, and that was still the case after, but Kortrijk and Lokeren didn’t do themselves any favours.
Starting at Kortrijk, they were run ragged by Roeselare who took the shackles off by the looks of it. Kehli scored within seconds of the start of the match, and then Saviour Godwin doubled the lead, with both goals oozing with flair and were up there as goals of the weekend! Kortrijk never got going in all honesty and Roeselare rounded up the scoring in an attack where they hit the bar twice, until Davy Brouwers had enough and settled the match! So a 3-0 win in a match where Kortrijk could’ve shown more but simply showed how unreliable hey can be!
Lokeren however decided not to take advantage either, but for their sales, they showed more pride than De Kerels in their match. After a 2-0 first half deficit thanks to an early strike, well…thunderbolt by Nkaka, and then a penalty by Kabasele sent Mouscron in at half time with a tidy looking scoreline. But 2 headers from Lokeren pair Persoons and Miric was all they could muster. Finishing 2-2, Genk only needed a win due to their far superiorgoal difference to make certain of their Europa League play off!
Genk basically sealed their place in the play offs with a 2-1 home win over Eupen. Nine points clear with nine points to play for, but their +18 goal difference over their only competition shows that they’re home and dry! Samatta got back amongst the goals, scoring the second and assisting with the first for Jere Uronen. Eupen battled and pulled one back through, who else, Henry Onyekuru, who’ll probably be gone come the summer. The young Nigerian has been amazing for a relegation threatened side and he took his goal superbly. The young Finn Uronen received a second yellow 3 minutes later but Eupen just couldn’t breakthrough.
To round up, PO2B is settled, the league could be wrapped up next week and still all to play for in PO2A as we draw ever closer to the end…