Belgian Playoffs Recap:  McKenzie, Genk Crush Mechelen

Both the Championship and Conference League playoffs continued over the weekend with both Sam Vines and Mark McKenzie collecting some points in their quest for a European spot.

Antwerp 0 – 0 Union Saint Gilloise

Sam Vines started on the left wing for the Great Old in their 3-5-2 formation and played for 71 minutes as they hosts kept a clean sheet but were unable to breach the USG defense, thereby settling for an unexpected point against the leaders of the pack. 

The hosts actually dominated possession, albeit by a slim margin of 51% to 49%, and also dominated in the final third, winning 10 corners compared to their visitors’ two.  Shots on target were 4-5.

RAFC had the first shout at goal from a free kick just wide of the 18 yard box. Michael Frey out jumped his marker and would have scored with his powerful header but Anthony Moris was on his toes and tipped the effort over his crossbar.  The Swiss front man had another chance soon after when he was played though on the right flank.  He outpaced the defender and got a good shot off, albeit from not the best of angles, that allowed Moris to parry it away.  Poor defending and the ability to clear the box could have been costly but again the Belgian keeper did his job well.

USG came alive in the second half and threatened Jean Butez’s goal on a few occasions but nothing came of it and in the end both teams had to be satisfied with a point.

Antwerp moved from bottom to third with the point early on Sunday afternoon.  Third place means a UEFA Conference League Qualifier.  Later in the day however, Anderlecht held Club Brugge to a 0-0 result, meaning that les Mauvres moved back into the third spot.  Club also failed to take advantage of the USG result and missed the chance to move into the top spot.

Antwerp will host Anderlecht on Sunday evening as the two teams fight it out for a European slot, while USG hosts club earlier in the day.

Genk 4 – 2 Mechelen

Mark McKenzie started again in the heart of defense for Genk when they hosted Mechelen on Saturday evening in Limburg.  Theo Bongonda found the back of the net twice in the second half, while Daniel Munoz and Joseph Paintsil also scored for the hosts.

It took a half hour before the first real effort on goal and that was from Junya Ito, who turned his marker and dribbled into the box.  His shot, although on target, was saved by Gaetan Coucke.  A minute later the Japanese attacker spotted the run of Munoz, fed him the ball and watched the Colombian slide it into the far corner of the Mechelen goal.  And this was the only goal before the intermission.

When the clock struck one hour played, the visitors were back in the game thanks to Geoffrey Hairemans who scored from just five yards out.  Bongonda scored from just inside the 18 yard box but just four minutes later Rob Schoofs scored from 22 yards out from a free kick. 

The Smurfs took the lead once again a few minutes later, again from the foot of the Congolese striker.  From 25 yards out on a ball that was not exactly struck hard but on target, the Kakkers keeper was slow to react and surrendered the lead once again.  Deep in stoppage time the Genk Ghanese made sure of the points with his right foot after his header was blocked and the ball fell in front of his feet.

The win keeps Genk in second place, two points behind Gent, who beat Charleroi on the road on Saturday evening.  Up next, Genk will travel to Charleroi on Friday night.

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