Mark McKenzie helped his Genk side tighten their stranglehold on the Pro League top spot with a victory over the reigning Belgian champions, while Bryan Reynolds is set for a lengthy absence after an injury in Westerlo’s win over Cercle Brugge.
Genk 3 – 1 Club Brugge
KRC Genk started the new year in fine fashion by defeating the reigning Belgian Champions Club Brugge, with Mark McKenzie and the back line puting in a solid performance.
This was also the debut for Club’s new coach, Scott Parker, who just took over the top job after the team collected just two out of nine points and were knocked out of the Belgian Cup by Sint-Truiden over their past four competitive games.
It was however the visitors who struck first, when their captain Hans Vanaken tucked the ball past Maarten Vandevoordt after just 21 minutes. It was only minutes later however when Carlos Cuesta scored his first goal of the season and got Genk level after some poor Club defensive decision making.
After the intermission, the hosts came out of the starting blocks with three points on their mind.
Both Bryan Heynen and Paul Onuachu had good scoring opportunities early on, but Simon Mignolet kept the ball out of his goal. In the 67th minute however, Joseph Paintsil picked out Onuachu, and the big striker subsequently beat defender Brandon Mechele and then Mignolet to put the Smurfs ahead. This was the Nigerian’s 14th goal of the season.
Things only got worse for Club when Loubadhe Sylla, who seems to collect yellow cards like squirrels collect acorns, was shown his second of the game in the 75th minute. This was his second red card of the season and his sixth yellow.
With the game already as good as won, Heynen twisted the knife with his seventh score of the season.
Genk are now ten points ahead of second place Union St Gilloise and 15 ahead of the reigning Belgian champs. Up next, where they will hope to keep their lead over the pack, will be a Saturday night home game against Zulte Waregem. First, however, they’ll go up against Antwerp midweek in a Belgian Cup clash.
Cercle Brugge 0 – 1 Westerlo
Westerlo travelled to Brugge to play the city’s second team and they came away with a very valuable three points, however Bryan Reynolds didn’t come out of the tunnel to start the second half after he picked up an injury in the first half, despite being able to play through until the intermission.
The only goal of the game came after only six minutes from the penalty spot. Westerlo’s first attack came when defender Dimitar Velkovski lightly pushed Halil Akbunar and the Turkish striker crumbled to the ground.
Regardless, the referee immediately pointed to the spot and Belgian international Nasir Chadli did the honors.
Following the game, comments from the Westerlo coach seemed to indicate that Reynolds suffered a broken collarbone, meaning he will be out for at least several weeks.
Next up for Westerlo is a visit from OH Leuven over the weekend.
Sam Vines is still recovering from his leg injury but his team, Royal Antwerp, got back to winning ways with a 2-0 shutout against Gent. The Great Old is tied with second place USG on 39 points but the Brussels team has a game in hand and is one goal better off. Next up for the team, which will still be Vines-less is a trip east to take on Mark McKenzie and Genk.
Jorge Hernandez didn’t make the team sheet as his KV Mechelen lost 2-0 on the road to Zulte-Waregem. The Mexican-American has only registered 115 minutes on the field, making nine substitute appearances. His last time on the field was mid-October. Hopefully he can work his way back into the squad in the near future. Next up will be a Belgian Cup game at Kortrijk on Wednesday evening.