The final result was Standard Liege 2 Anderlecht 1 but this wasn’t so much a football match as a fight for supremacy. After the game, Standard’s assistant coach Peter Balette said that it had not been football, it had been war.
Standard went into the match on the back of four defeats. Cue banners saying “(President) Duchâtelet is a clown”, “(Technical Director) de Sart – you’ve had 18 months to show you’re incompetent” and “Management’s ambition doesn’t match our passion”. New coach Ron Jans seems to be blameless in the eyes of fans as he was not targeted.
The match started with Anderlecht outplaying Standard and then scoring as early as the ninth minute when ex-Standardman Milan Jovanovic side-footed home but declined to celebrate. That was the signal for Standard’s hard core fans to throw masses of flares and fire-crackers onto the pitch, especially in the area of Silvio Proto’s goal. Nets had to be repaired where the heat of the flares had melted the netting.
The referee, Alexandre Boucaut, took the players off (for six minutes) and said he would stop the game if it happened again. When it did happen again, 20 minutes later, he did nothing.
The fans feverish support seemed to galvanise Jelle Van Damme and his troops and it was no surprise when Standard equalised through Frederic Bulot. Proto then saved brilliantly from Van Damme and on the stroke of half-time, Bulot volleyed home his second goal.
The second half was calmer but free of flowing football. Regi Goreux was sent off after two (or three) bad fouls and Dieumerci Mbokani missed a penalty – Anderlecht’s fifth consecutive miss from the spot. Les Mauves had 25 minutes to get back in the game against 10 men but failed, deciding to just hit long balls into the Standard area. Van Damme could easily have been dismissed, and Roland Juhasz was lucky not to be booked at least for a charge on William Vainqueur.
After the match, Jovanovic said everyone was a loser in that match, but added that the atmosphere would be hotter in Belgrade next Friday when Belgium are in town. However, both coaches, John Van den Brom and Jans – schooled in the Netherlands – said they had never seen an atmosphere like it before.
It remains to be seen if the Belgian FA will react to the behaviour of the Standard fans, which did impact the course of the game, but based on its reaction to any accusations of racism, this is unlikely.
Elsewhere, Club Brugge failed to capitalise on the unfair exclusion of Anele and could only draw at home with Genk. Zulte Waregem went second after defeating Cercle Brugge (with an Eidur Gudjohnsen cameo) while Charleroi were thrashed 4-0 at home by Leuven.
Beveren 2 Mons 2; Beerschot 0; Kortrijk 2 Gent 2; Standard 2 Anderlecht 1; Club Brugge 1 Genk1; KV Mechelen 0 Kortrijk 2; Charleroi 0 Leuven 4; Zulte Waregem 3 Cercle Brugge 1; Lokeren 2 Lierse 2.
Performance of the week: Leuven
Player of the week: Franck Berrier (Zulte Waregem)
Club Brugge 22 points; Zulte Waregem 19, Anderlecht 19, Genk 18, Kortrijk 17, Gent 16.
8 goals – Carlos Bacca (Club Brugge), Ibou Savaneh (Leuven)
7 Goals – Frank Berrier (Zulte Waregem)
6 goals –Dieumerci Mbokani (Anderlecht), Benjamin De Ceulaer (Lokeren/Genk)
5 goals – Lior Refaelov (Club Brugge), Mustapha Jarju (Mons), Nacho Gonzalez (Standard), Jelle Vossen (Genk)