There were important wins for Anderlecht and Charleroi as the playoffs approached the halfway stage. Plumbing the depths were Standard Liege who lost again and were roundly condemned by many. Michel Preud’homme’s Club Brugge again looked to be down and out – this time at Gent – but once more they fought back and managed to salvage a point.Besnik Hasi kept the same Anderlecht side that lost at the Jan Breydel stadium and was proved right as his charges put five goals past a sad-looking Kortrijk. Remarkably, 34 year-old centre back Olivier Deschacht scored the first two goals, both with his head (he’s never before scored in that way). It was the indefatigable Deschacht’s 68th consecutive game for Anderlecht. One of his best friends is Kortrijk coach Yves Vanderhaeghe who was not impressed; threatening to postpone their weekly lunch date.
One welcome sign for the Brussels side was that the goals were spread throughout the team and not restricted to Aleksander Mitrovic. As for the fans, @Tejkarafi felt Anderlecht had just started their campaign while @olliman0085 reasoned a more audacious Anderlecht (and one with fewer Injuries) would have meant more points. Youri Tielemans has certainly come back refreshed but several observers reason that Chancel Mbemba’s return at centre back has been a bigger factor.
Hein Van Haezebrouck’s Gent looked to be heading to the top of the table after Swiss midfielder Danijel Miličević had made it 2-0 in the first half against Club Brugge. But it was not to be. Maybe it was Preud’homme’s introduction of Tom De Sutter, who worried the Gent defence, or perhaps it was that Gent’s players already had their minds on Thursday’s home clash with Anderlecht. Van Haezebrouck’s men are still second however and the party line is that their ambition is to simply be in the top three.
On Saturday, it was the Battle of Wallonia as Charleroi faced Standard Liege. It was no classic and the three points went to the Carolos. There was plenty of criticism for coach Jose Riga and, unlike Preud’homme, he seemed to have no idea what to do in terms of substitutions. @Standard_Yid wrote in to say that Riga will never be good enough to take the club forward and should go. From Ireland, @JBreen8 felt that “Igor De Camargo’s effort level was unacceptable and he shouldn’t have the captain’s armband.” He added that the club needs new owners.
Results: Anderlecht 5 Kortrijk 1; Charleroi 1 Standard 0; Gent 2 Club Brugge 2.
Standings: Club Brugge 38, Gent 36, Anderlecht 35, Charleroi 32, Standard 30, Kortrijk 30.
Man of the weekend: Deschacht (Anderlecht).
The games come thick and fast now with matches on Tuesday (Kortrijk-Standard), Wednesday (Club Brugge-Charleroi) and Thursday (Gent-Anderlecht). Club Brugge will need to be on their mettle against a Charleroi team that is on a bit of a roll.
After a complicated procedure, the winner of the Playoffs 2 will play the team finishing fourth in the Playoffs 1, for a place in the Europa League.
In Group A, Genk managed to defeat KV Mechelen (1-0) after losing to the same opposition by four goals last week. One of those two will win the group – both have home games next Saturday. Genk fans, however, are more ambitious, @DannyWelbeckham “hopes that (Peter) Maes takes us forward next season, there have been rough times for us Genk fans the last few seasons.” @tremans, though, questioned whether the Playoffs 02 could really be counted as football.
In Group B, Lokeren are unbeaten and seem to be on the way to win that group.
It’s all over now … for Cercle Brugge. Destroyed by a rejuvenated Lierse, they are relegated to division 2. Meanwhile, Lierse have to get ready for another six games – against Eupen, Leuven and Lommel to see who goes up to division 1 or (in Lierse’s case) stays there. @SeppeDams was not impressed with Lierse’s escape – he stated “(If) you’re last, you’re out.”
Mitrovic (Anderlecht) 17; Emond (Beveren) 14; Santini (Kortrijk) 14.
Refaelov (Club Brugge) 11; Chevalier (Kortrijk), Patosi (Lokeren), Vazquez (Club Brugge) 10.