Mark McKenzie’s goal for Genk wasn’t enough to keep them from slipping out of the Belgian Pro League top spot after a loss to Antwerp, while Marlon Fossey and Standard Liege saw their chance for European qualification take a major hit in their home loss to Gent.
Antwerp 2 – 1 Genk
With just two points between league leaders Genk and third place Royal Antwerp, this was a crucial game for both teams, especially since Union St Gilloise came away with a 2-1 win on the road against Club Brugge.
Mark McKenzie started in his usual defensive position for Genk and contributed to the cause with the first goal of the contest. Sam Vines still has not been back in the Antwerp line-up since recovering from his injury, and missed this one as well.
Mark McKenzie 20th-minute goal wasn’t the prettiest one he has ever scored, but was still enough to put his team ahead. He pretty much fumbled the ball across the goal line after Butez showed how not to be a goalkeeper by neither clearing it nor picking it up.
The American then whacked the ball into the back of the net, just to be sure, giving the visitors the 1-0 lead.
Just five minutes later the Great Old was gifted a penalty kick that might have been rather generous. Vincent Janssen was brought down but inside the box; or maybe just outside the box. The VAR crew got out their magnifying glass and scrutinized the video, in the end giving the referee the evidence needed to decide that it was a penalty.
The Dutchman decided to take the penalty himself; while he did net an impressive spot kick last weekend that the fans remembered, Janssen obviously did not, and could not follow up his earlier success. He hit the ball weakly and honestly, quite pathetically, allowing Maarten Vandevoordt to scoop it up, preserving Genk’s lead.
In first half stoppage time however, the referee must have thought that they should have another shot at it and awarded another penalty. This time the Belgian international defender, Toby Alderweireld, took the ball from his Dutch colleague, placed it on the spot and whacked it into the top corner, giving the Genk keeper no chance at any heroics.
Seven minutes after the restart, the Antwerpers took the lead and never let it slip away. Michel-Ange Balikwisha, who had been tormenting the back line all evening, did so again and this time it paid off as he struck hard and true to secure the three points for his team.
The win puts Royal Antwerp in first place, on 42 points, with Genk now playing catch-up. This coming weekend they will host Club Brugge, while Genk travels to Brussels to take on Union St Gilloise.
Westerlo 3 – 5 Cercle Brugge
Bryan Reynolds started for Westerlo in their high-scoring home loss to Cercle Brugge, and Griffin Yow finally made his debut for the hosts after several appearances on the bench.
See Michael Adubato’s upcoming Press Box Report of the game for full details.
Standard Liege 1 – 2 Gent
Marlon Fossey went the distance for les Rouches as they welcomed Gent to the Sclessin on Saturday night. The visitors took a first-half lead before Standard got back on par, only to see it slip away; the game and the three points.
The highlight of the game was actually a goal that wasn’t. Gent’s Gift Orban kicked off the second half and sent it right towards the Standard goal, catching the keeper, Arnaud Bodarat, off his line. Unfortunately for the Nigerian, it clattered against the crossbar and out of harm’s way.
After both teams went at each other in the first half-hour, the first goal finally came a minute later. Orban was played through by Hugo Cuypers and when the gift was presented to the aptly named Gift, he went one-on-one with Bodart and made the keeper pull the ball out of the back of his net.
It took until 11 minutes into the second half before the hosts tied the game up. This goal came from a free kick that Colombian international Steven Alzate sent into the back of the net.
The eventual game-winner hit the back of the net in the 61st minute. This one came from Gent’s prolific goal-getter Cuypers. It was the Liege-born strikers 21st goal of the season and most importantly, it was the one that gave the Flemish team the important three points.
The win extends Gent’s win at the top of the Playoff ECL Group, and the Liege loss means they’re in the third spot, though equal on points with Cercle Brugge who picked up three points over the weekend. Up next for Fossey’s side will be visit from Bryan Reynolds and Westerlo.