Our American big three in the Pro League started again with very good results, with both Mark McKenzie and Bryan Reynolds tasting victory, while Marlon Fossey had to settle for a point in chilly Belgium.
Anderlecht 2 – 2 Standard Liege
It was a thriller in Brussels when Standard Liege came to town and escaped with a point as they look to make the top championship group at the end of the regular season. Marlon Fossey played the entire game for les Rouches.
The visitors took the lead after just 14 minutes thanks to some fancy dribbling by William Balikwisha out on the right flank. From the corner flag, the Belgian midfielder coolly got himself around his defender.
His cross into the box however wasn’t a very good one. It found les Mauves Danish defender Andres Dreyer, who deflected it right in front of his goal. Standing there minding his own business four yards from the goal was Dutchman Noah Ohio, who back-heeled the ball past the shocked keeper for the opener.
The lead lasted only 20 minutes however because in the 34th minute, Islam Slimani put the ball down on the penalty spot and then booted it into the back of the net. Francis Amuzu was played into the box and as he headed it forward, Fossey charged into him with his shoulder, knocking the Belgian midfielder to the ground. No question that it was a blatant foul, leading to the fateful spot kick.
Anderlecht took the lead a few minutes later and again it was from the foot of Slimani. This time it was on the break as a long ball up the right side picked out Amuzi who put in the perfect cross for the 34 year-old Algerian.
The hosts threw away their lead halfway through the second half. Standard were on the attack again, and when Philip Zinckernagel’s ball into the box was deflected by Killian Sardella it was bad news for the hosts. Unfortunately for the defender, it sailed past his keeper for an own goal.
With the points shared, seventh-place Standard will go up against Bryan Reynold’s Westerlo this weekend.
Genk 3 – 0 Oostende
Mark McKenzie and Genk got back to winning ways with a shut-out against Oostende, after having dropped five points in their previous two games. The American went the distance yet again in his central defensive role.
Although it was considered to be a foregone conclusion, the win means that the team has officially qualified for the championship play-off group.
The three goals were a welcome sight for the home fans, along with the three points as three different Smurfs found the back of the net on Saturday afternoon. Daniel Munoz and Mbwanna Samatta struck in the first half to put the game to bed early on, while Joseph Paintsil scored his 11th of the season in the second. Mike Tresor picked up a pair of assists.
With the Seasiders fighting for their Pro League survival, Genk looked to take the wind out of their sails from the kick off and did just that.
Seven minutes in, Tresor almost picked up his first assist when he picked out Pantsil but saw the Ghanaian’s shot bounce off the post.
Soon after that the Oostende keeper was picking the ball out of the back of his net. McKenzie got the ball at his feet from a corner kick but his shot was blocked. Fortunately it fell to his Colombian team mate who buried it for his seventh league goal.
Samatta came into the game a few minutes after the ninth-minute equalizing goal, after Toluwalase Arokodare picked up a thigh injury and had to be substituted. The move was a fruitful one as the Tanzanian doubled the score in the 40th minute.
In the second half Maarten Vandevoort was called upon to make a couple of saves as the visitors went on the attack but the Belgian keeper was up for the challenge and kept his clean sheet. The final goal came in the 73rd minute from Paintsil and the three points were in the bag.
With a ten-point lead at the top of the Pro League standings, the Smurfs will head to Sint-Truiden for a Sunday afternoon kick-off and look to stay on track.
Westerlo 4 – 2 Union Saint-Gilloise
It was a fantastic weekend for Bryan Reynolds and Westerlo as they picked up a big win against second place USG in front of their home fans. The Texan played the entirety of the game in his right back position.
The game was certainly an exciting one with the goals coming fast and furious. After Westerlo took a two-goal lead thanks to a pair of strikes from Thomas Van den Keybus and Nacer Chadli in the first 20 minutes, USG got themselves back into it with Victor Boniface striking in the 40th minute and then the Nigerian doing the same 22 minutes after the intermission.
Things turned in favor of the hosts not ten minutes later when Van den Keybus was fouled in the box by Lazare Amani. Referee Alexandre Boucaut had to spend a few minutes consulting VAR before he pointed to the spot and then showing the Ivorian a yellow card.
Defender Maxim De Cuyper put the ball on the spot an decided to chip his attempt into the back of the net, Panenka-style, for the lead.
The Unionists did their best to fight back, attacking up both sides of the field but their efforts came to nothing.
As a matter of fact, a minute from the full 90, Westerlo flattered themselves by scoring yet again. Nene Dorgeles came on in the 77th minute for Chadli. The man from Mali found himself one-on-one with the USG keeper, composed himself and scored his eighth of the season.
Currently in sixth place, Westerlo find themselves in contention for a top four finish and with Club Brugge still out of sorts, they could well be competing for the title in a couple of month’s time. They’ll have to get by Standard Liege on Sunday night next if they want to join the top group.
Royal Antwerp is still awaiting the return of Sam Vines. They managed to secure a point on the road against OH Leuven on Sunday evening. The game ended 1-1. Next game will be Belgian Cup against USG in this return leg of the semi-finals. The Brussels based team has a 1-0 aggregate lead. Then its back to league action on Sunday when Mechelen comes to town.
Jorge Hernandez did not make the team sheet for KV Mechelen’s 2-0 road trip win against Seraing. Up next for the 13th-place team will be a mid-week Belgian Cup semi-final against Zutle-Waregem. Then it’s off to Antwerp over the weekend.