The Belgian Pro League has returned to action to start the second half of the season, and both Bryan Reynolds and Mark McKenzie got the nod in their teams’ respective starting lineups, but dropped points in their final outings of 2022.
Westerlo 3 – 3 Antwerp
A Yank vs. Yank contest was on the books, however with Sam Vines still recovering from a fractured tibia, Bryan Reynolds was the only American on the field at Het Kuipje where the two Flemish teams battled it out and ended up sharing the points in this 3-3 clash.
The hosts initially blew a 2-0 lead and then surrendered an 88th equalizing minute goal to the Great Old, thus throwing away a couple of crucial points, where they hope to secure a top four finish.
The first half was a game of a few chances, where the deadlock was broken only a minute before the intermission. Defender Maxim De Cuyper scored his fourth of the season. The Belgian set the ball down for a corner kick, and although it first appeared that Nasir Chadli got a head to it, the ball sailed inside the far post without being touched.
The second half showed significantly more entertainment, with the ball hitting the back of the nets another five times.
The first was a gift from Antwerp defender Toby Alderweireld just two minutes after the restart. The Belgian, fresh from a disappointing World Cup, tried to clear a cross into the box but only managed to get it as far as Nicolas Madsen, who said “thank you” and curled it into the right hand corner for his first goal in Belgium.
The home fans may have thought that the game was in their hands but just four minutes later Antwerp’s big Swiss striker, Michael Frey, pulled one back.
But the 65th minute saw KVC restore a two-goal lead yet again. This time it was Mathias Fixelles who did the honors. The Belgian stole the ball in the middle of the park, charged down the field and let loose just at the top of the box, sending the ball into the top right hand corner.
Reynolds had a fine 80th minute opportunity to score but only saw his attempt parried away.
The hosts then lost the plot with less than five minutes left in the game. In the 86th minute Antwerp’s Dutch forward Vincent Janssen, slotted the ball just inside the far post, then two minutes later Calvin Stengs, who assisted on his countryman’s last goal, struck and knotted the game up.
And this is how it ended, a share of the points for each team.
Westerlo, who now sit in seventh place, will return to action next month when they travel to take on Cercle Brugge. Antwerp, who will most likely still be without their American defender, will host Gent.
Kortrijk 1 – 0 Genk
Mark McKenzie slotted directly back into the Smurfs’ starting line-up, but it was a night to forget as the top of the league team suffered a defeat at the hands of relegation threatened side, KV Kortrijk.
In this contest that looked to be ending as a scoreless stalemate, it was Felipe Avenatti who became the Kerels’ hero in the 83rd minute when he beat Maarten Vandevoordt to light on the scoreboard.
Although no points were collected, Genk still commands a seven point lead over their closest rival, Union St Gilloise. Up next will be a tough game against defending champions Club Brugge, who have had a few bad results and now occupy fourth place, 12 points adrift.
Jorge Hernandez didn’t make the team sheet when Mechelen hosted and shared the points with Cercle in the 1-1 final. The Yank will hope to be back in contention when the Kakkers take on Zulte-Waregem.