With a month’s rain falling in 36 hours, football was not uppermost in many people’s minds last weekend. Remarkably, only one match was postponed; by Sunday night, Racing Genk had been crowned ‘Autumn Champions’ – top of the table at the season’s halfway stage. The title doesn’t mean anything but it will make coach Franky Vercauteren very happy. Just behind Genk, and moving along strongly are Anderlecht, coached by Vercauteren’s arch enemy, Ariel Jacobs. When the clubs met a few weeks ago, Vercauteren refused to attend the press conference as he didn’t want to sit next to Jacobs. They worked together at Anderlecht but now the gloves are off; this could be an interesting run-in.
On Sunday, Anderlecht collected three invaluable points at Ghent. Romelu Lukaku was prominent, making one goal and scoring from the penalty spot. Franky Drury’s Ghent are a useful side but their record in the big games is lamentable; they’ve now lost to Club Brugge, Genk, Standard Liege and Anderlecht. Drury has to do something about that, and quickly.
With some grounds being almost waterlogged, Standard could thank the gods when a goal-bound shot from Germinal Beerschot’s Faris Haroun stuck in the mud. Such is life, and the result – a 1-0 victory for Standard despite Sebastien Pocognoli being sent off – could be a factor in Beerschot coach Glen De Boeck losing his job in the next 48 hours. For Standard, Mohamed Tchite got the goal to make it six in 10 games.
Leaders Racing Genk sealed the “Autumn Championship” with a 3-0 victory over Cercle Brugge. They had 18-year-old keeper Thibaut Courtois to thank for the points as it could easily have been 4-0 for Cercle after 25 minutes. Courtois is a top prospect and it was only after Cercle’s captain Denis Viane somewhat harshly receiving a red card that Genk strolled to victory. There were goals there for Elianiv Barda and Marvin Ogunjimi.
Club Brugge’s pitch was in great shape for the visit of Lierse. The home club had an easy victory and probably wish they could play Lierse every week. Eiji Kawashima was at fault for the first goal, a long-range effort from Ronald Vargas. Brugge hit the post twice and they were helped by a red card for Lierse (Frederic Frans) and subsequent penalty.
Down at the bottom, Charleroi played Westerlo in front of what seemed like their friends and family. In fact there were just over 3,000 in the ground but that’s not great for one of only two clubs from Wallonia. The fans didn’t like the weather and they think even less of the team these days. Despite playing slightly better, they were undone in the 89th minute when Christian Bruls struck to give Jan Ceulemans’ team the three points. It’s not all bad news though as Charleroi flew out to Malaga for five days on Sunday morning.
Lokeren had an easy win over St Truiden who are but a shadow of their last season selves. The one game postponed was at Eupen. The game was called off just 90 minutes before the kick-off. Mechelen fans were not happy as they had travelled for the game and they will sue the Football Federation. Now for the second half of the season.
Positions: (top and bottom)
1. Racing Genk (33 points), 2. Anderlecht (31), 3. Ghent (28), 4. Standard Liège (27), 5. Lokeren (26).
14. Lierse (9), 15. Eupen (8), 16. Charleroi (7).