The Belgian playoffs have reached the half-way point and both Yanks had a terrible weekend with Mark McKenzie’s team blowing a victory and Sam Vines’ side getting thrashed in their own back yard.

Antwerp 0 – 4 Anderlecht

Sam Vines started for the Great Old and went the distance but could do little to keep Anderlecht from running amok with four goals, including a Francis Amuzu hat trick at Bosuil Stadium.

Les Mauves were unstoppable up in Antwerp on Sunday afternoon. As soon as the referee blew to start the game, the visitors got to work and took just 10 minutes to light up the score board. Keeper Jean Butez had a moment of stupidity when he played the ball out to a defender who was immediately closed down, thus losing the ball. Joshua Zirkzee played a back heel pass to Amuzu as he entered the box from the D and struck it inside the near post.

The half ended with just the one goal but soon after the intermission, Anderlecht was at it again. It was actually only three minutes after the re-start when the Dutchman on loan from Bayern Munich turned from provider to goal scorer. Again, it was poor defending that allowed Christian Kouame to get around his marker and center the ball in the box for an easy goal for Zirkzee.

Five minutes later you could have stuck a fork in the Flemish team because they were definitely done when Amuzu was picked out by Kouame and the Ghana born Belgian scored again from just inside the 18 yard box. He completed his hat trick a minute later, while Kouame completed his hat trick of assists.

Vines and company, in last place in the group, will have to get their heads back into the game because they will heading to Brussels on Thursday evening to go up against Anderlecht again and this time in the very hostile Lotto Park.

Charleroi 2 – 2 Genk

Mark McKenzie kept his place in the heart of Genk’s defense when the Smurfs traveled across the internal Belgian border into Wallonia, to take on Sporting Charleroi at the Stade du Pays de Charleroi on Friday evening. Vakoun Boya started off the scoring for the hosts just before the intermission and also scored the equalizer deep into stoppage time. Paul Onuachu and Kristian Thorstvedt found the back of the net for the visitors.

Genk lacked chances in the first half although Joseph Paintsil and Theo Bondonda did their best to threaten Herve Koffi’s goal, while at the other end 20-year-old Marten Vandevoordt guarded his goal amicably; that was until just before the intermission. Bayo bore down on goal earlier on but McKenzie stopped him in his tracks. This time however, the Ivorian striker met a cross from the right flank delivered by Ken Nkuba and headed it past Vandevoordt.

With only 10 minutes left on the clock, Genk finally got it right when Junya Ito set up Onuachu and the big Nigerian scored his 20th goal of the season. Thorstvedt almost doubled the lead minutes later but Koffi made a spectacular save. He didn’t save it a minute later however when the Norwegian had the ball fall to him and easily tucked it away for the lead in the 84th minute.

The road win that the Smurfs thought they had achieved disappeared three minutes into stoppage time when Bayo struck again to break blue hearts.

The draw leaves Genk in second place, four points behind group leaders Gent. They’ll have a chance to close the gap and also seek revenge on Tuesday night when Charleroi heads to Genk for the return leg.
Notes

Club Brugge came away with all the points against Union St Gilloise and thus have taken over the top spot in the championship playoff group.

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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