Standard Liege’s trip to Zulte Waregem always looked to be dangerous, coming between two European matches. This proved to be the case with the team losing heavily, 4-2. That was forgotten however as, just after the final whistle, the staff and players learnt of the death – from a heart attack – of the club’s physical trainer Guy Namurois, aged 51. Namurois was highly respected, and not just in the world of football, as he had also coaching leading tennis players, including Justine Henin, and athletes. He himself was an international decathlete in his younger days.
On the field, Standard’s defeat was engineered by Franck Berrier who left the club in the winter break. Berrier was instrumental in creating all four of Zulte’s goals. The only good news for Standard was Michy Batshuayi’s fifth goal in seven starts.
Club Brugge put out an extremely offensive line-up and they got the three points against Kortrijk without reaching top form. Lior Rafaelov was again impressive in a free role and Victor Vasquez seems to be enjoying more responsibility. This was Club Brugge’s fifth straight victory and the only cloud was the loss of Fredrik Stenman who collapsed with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Anderlecht defeated Westerlo but were not impressive. It was 0-0 at half time and perhaps a few words from Ariel Jacobs inspired them to a 3-1 win. The main talking point was whether Ronald Juhasz was intentionally trying to be booked when he removed his shirt after scoring the second goal. It will be interesting to see if he does it again as one more will see his slate wiped clean before the playoffs.
Gent drew at Lokeren and after the match assistant coach Manu Ferrera argued they had been missing key players in recent weeks and that explained the loss of form. One assumes he meant Tim Smolders and Berndt Thijs, which might mean that ‘Mix’ Diserkud could drop back to the bench soon.
Genk went to Mons and notched up their first away win for four months. It was good to see Kevin De Bruyne make the first goal and score the second in a 2-1 win. Christian Benteke also took the eye and perhaps he could be worth trying in Belgium’s forthcoming friendlies.
Cercle Brugge were at Leuven and also came away with three points. I initially said that was a great win but having seen the highlights, I can sympathise with Leuven’s fans. Cercle’s first two goals were both debateable (one from the penalty spot) and only Kevin D’Haene’s late winner looked the part. For Leuven, Anderlecht loanee Sacha Iakovenko was superb and that performance was hopefully seen by the Ukraine coach and administration.
There are only four games left before the playoffs and Standard need to get back on the winning track next week, at home to Sint Truiden, to avoid getting dragged into a four-way fight for three places.
Lokeren 1 Gent 1; Mons 1 Genk 2; KV Mechelen 2 Beerschot 1; Leuven 2 Cercle Brugge 3; Sint Truiden 1 Lierse1; Anderlecht 3 Westerlo 1; Zulte Waregem 4 Standard 2; Club Brugge 2 Kortrijk 1