Sam Vines

With just three games left until the regular season ends, Sam Vines and Antwerp were leapfrogged by Anderlecht, dropping down to fourth place but still holding onto a playoff spot.

Anderlecht 2 – 1 Antwerp

Same Vines started for the Great Old when they traveled to Brussels on Sunday afternoon to take on Anderlecht.  The American only played 45 minutes as the visitors lost a close one, 2-1, at Lotto Park. 

Les Mauves took the lead after 24 minutes courtesy of Joshua Zirkzee but it was all square at the half time whistle when Alhassan Yusuf struck in the 42nd minute. The winner came from Lior Refaelov just before the hour mark.

Les Mauves have been on a tear as of late, collecting 13 out of 15 points in their last five games and have climbed into the top playoff group, with all intentions of making late noise in the final competition for the Belgian title. 

Antwerp, however, has been dropping too many points, but their early season form means that they’re still in the top playoff group, even if only a point ahead of fifth-place Gent.

The first goal of the game was a textbook move where Majeed Ashimeru played the ball to Zirkzee down the middle, in between a pair of defenders. The Dutchman latched onto and easily beat Jean Butez in the Royal goal, lifting it over his head as the Frenchman charged off his line.

Yusuf’s equalizer came from about eight yards out, on a shot that he hit first time after receiving the pass from Aurelio Buta. 

Just before the hour mark however, Anderlecht was awarded a penalty when Butez came out to challenge Christian Kouame. The Frenchman got nothing of the ball on his challenge, but did make heavy contact with the Ivorian.  The referee rightly pointed to the spot and the Israeli midfielder scored his 12th of the season to secure the victory.

Antwerp will next host 16th place Zulte-Waregem, who are not yet on enough points to secure their Pro League status for next season, so this could be a tough game for them on Saturday night. 

Oostende 1 – 3 Club Brugge

Club Brugge’s team bus made the half hour drive to the seaside to take on KV Oostende and left with all the points in the bag later that day thanks to a Sargis Adamyan first half brace and a late own-goal. 

Kyle Duncan put in a 72 minute shift for the Seasiders. Needless to say, Owen Otasowie did not feature for Club.

KVO had the first chance at goal early on but Makhtar Gueye’s attempt grazed the outside of the post, leaving him frustrated. Instead of going ahead, in the 17th minute the Armenian striker who joined Club in January from Hoffenheim put his new team in the lead. It wasn’t to last long though.

With a usually pretty solid defense, the visitors had a bit of trouble clearing their area. When the ball fell to Frederik Jäkel inside the D, the German composed himself and put his foot through the ball, sending it between the near post and the diving Simon Mignolet.

Oostende’s defense was nothing to brag about either as they gifted Adamyan his second of the night in the 32nd minute. Gueye, having missed earlier attempt, made up for it when he found the back of the net; but the linesman flag went up and the Senegalese’s goal was ruled offside.

Tatsuhiro Sakamoto tried to influence the game early on in the second half and did well turning a pair of defenders, but when he crossed the ball into the box for an easy tap-in, there was not a red shirt to be found. 

In the 63rd minute the game was pretty much put to bed when, from a corner kick, Andreas Skov Olsen’s effort was helped across the line by the KVO keeper, so instead of the Dane seeing his name on the score sheet, it was Kjell Scherpen’s.

The loss leaves Duncan and company too far away from any hopes of a playoff spot but also far enough from the relegation zone. Club, on the other hand, remains in second place, seven points behind leaders USG. 

Next up for KVO is a trip to Brussels to take on USG, while the Brugge boys host Mark McKenzie and Genk.

Cercle Brugge 2 – 0 Kortrijk

The Kerels made the 30 mile trip up the E403 to Brugge to take on the city’s second team, but they didn’t play like second-fiddle, beating Bryan Reynolds’ side with a pair of second half goals. 

The American started the game but didn’t come back onto the field after the intermission. And that was when the goals came, both in the second half, courtesy of Dino Hotic and Kevin Denkey.

The hosts dominated the game early on and should have reaped the reward when Hotic set up Rabbi Motondo, but the Liverpool-born Welshman didn’t make the most of it and ended up rattling the post. And that was pretty much the highlight of the first half.

The Green and Blacks started the second half with the same intensity as the first but the difference this time was that they made it count.

A corner kick was delivered into the box, and a foul from Kevin Vandendriessche on Jesper Daland resulted in a chance from the penalty spot. The Slovenian, Hotic took it and lit up the scoreboard in the 50th minute. 

If this was a wake-up call for the Kerels, they obviously didn’t pick up the phone because Denkey made it 2-0, and the end result was Kortrijk dropping their third game in a row. 

On Sunday they will host Standard Liege and still have an outside chance of claiming that final playoff spot, so they cannot afford to throw away any more points.

Notes

Neither Mark McKenzie nor Chris Durkin took part in the Limburg Derby when Sint-Truiden made the short trip to take on Genk. It was a tight game and the Canaries came out on top this time, winning 1-0.

The loss for Genk was a tough one and means that although they are still in eighth place, the last one for the European playoff group, they will have a tough game coming up where points will be hard to come by against high-flying second place Club Brugge. Sint-Truiden are in tenth place, just three behind Genk and a win against last place Beerschot can put them level on points with their fellow Limburgers.

Jacob Montes did not make the bench when Molenbeek traveled to Lommel on Saturday evening where they came away with a point as the teams fought to a scoreless draw.

The Brussels club closed the gap just a bit with the point as first-place Westerlo lost to last place Excelsior Virton. There are now seven points between one and two. Molenbeek will continue their fight for promotion this coming weekend when they host Virton.

By Michael Adubato

The old man of Yanks-Abroad, having been around since the very beginning in 2004, Known as the resident Belgian expert since that’s where he has lived for a couple of decades. Over the years he has interviewed Nats such as Kasey Keller, Brian McBride, Oguchi Onyewu, Jozy Altidore and Tim Weah, to name a few. When not working the day job, he can often be found in stadiums around Europe, watching games from the top flight to the lower leagues. To prove that he is not just a pretty face, Mike received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland and a Masters from the University of Oklahoma. Boomer Sooner! On a non-soccer note, Adubato has just released a book of poetry from his travels, Missing the Exit, published by Broken Keys Publishing in Ottawa, Canada. So that must make him the YA poet laureate! You can grab your copy on Amazon.com, order online and pick it up and Barnes & Noble or get an e-copy at various outlets.

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