Virginie Lefour/Imago

Belgian Play-Offs Recap: McKenzie, Genk Choke – Title Handed to Vines, Royal Antwerp

4 minutes, 4 seconds Read

The Belgian title was decided on Sunday evening at the very last minute as Antwerp scored a late goal to claim their first crown in 66 years.

Union St Gilloise hosted Club Brugge in Brussels and with the Genk-Antwerp result, the boys from Brussels could have claimed the title but after taking the lead just after the intermission, they let it all slip away starting in the 89th minute. Club tied it up a minute before the 90 were played, then a pair of stoppage time goals saw the title handed to the Great Old.

Genk 2 – 2 Royal Antwerp

It was a thriller in Limburg as both teams knew that they could be lifting the trophy with a win before they took to the field of battle. Mark McKenzie, a stalwart for the Smurfs all season, was in the starting line-up. Sam Vines whereabouts however are still a mystery.

The hosts took the lead just before the intermission, thanks to Tolu Arokodare. After seeing his shot saved a minute earlier,  Bilal El Khannouss sent a cross into the box and the Nigerian didn’t miss this time.

Thirteen minutes after the intermission things were all square again when Gyrano Kerk scored from inside the box. Arokodare then missed the chance to go ahead a few minutes later, putting his effort over the crossbar.

With just 15 minutes left on the clock, Genk found themselves ahead again, Mike Tresor picked out Bryan Heynen and the captain led by example, beating the keeper for the go-ahead goal.

With the clock running down, the fourth official signaled the extra time, just as McKenzie was harshly tackled, delaying the game as the American was given medical attention. Then in the 94th minute, the equalizer was scored by former Tottenham Hotspur center-back Toby Alderweireld.

A long ball into the Genk box was headed away by Aziz Ouattara Mohammed but the Ivorian’s clearance was not very good. It only made it as far as Jelle Bataille, who was on the edge of the box. The former Belgian U-21 swiveled, saw Alderweireld, and slide the ball to him just to the side of the area. The owner of 127 Belgian national team caps then coolly picked his spot and blasted it into the top left-hand corner to send the visiting fans into a frenzy. When the game ended, the Antwerpers knew that they had secured their first title after six decades, adding it to their Belgian Cup win thus claiming the double.

Vines and Antwerp automatically qualify for the Champions League, while McKenzie and Genk will have to qualify or find themselves in the Europa League.

Cercle Brugge 2 – 0 Westerlo

With nothing to play for but to see the season out on a positive note, Westerlo headed west to take on Brugge’s second team and fell in the Venice of the North by a pair of goals to none. Bryan Reynolds started and played what was most likely his last game for Westerlo before returning to AS Roma for his future to be sorted. The defender went the distance.

Griffin Yow came off the bench in the 76th minute for Nene Dorgeles, registering his most minutes in a game this season. With his minutes increasing over the duration of the playoffs, things are looking positive for the future of the 20-year-old midfielder going into the new season.

Just four minutes into the game, Reynolds could have put his team ahead when after a corner, the ball was sent into the box by Nicolas Madsen to the American who got his head to it. Unfortunately, he missed the target just wide left of the post.

Lukas Van Eenoo broke the deadlock in the 76th minute with an unfortunate own goal. A free kick from the other end of the field was played around 40 yards to a Cercle head. It was nodded into the box and the Belgian defender then did the same, putting it past his keeper.

With just a minute left on the clock, the Brugge boys scored one by themselves when Hannes van der Bruggen picked out his Ivorian-born French teammate, Yann Gboho. The shot from close range was his third of the season.

Westerlo will be back in action when the new season kicks off on July 28th.

Gent 3 – 1 Standard Liege

Marlon Fossey put in an 80-minute shift as Standard Liege lost to Gent, who had already been named group winners even before the game got underway. Although Les Rouches took the early lead from William Balikwisha’s 11th-minute net-bender, the rest of the game belonged to the hosts as Hugo Cuypers had a brilliant afternoon by hitting a hat trick, scoring his 25th, 26th, and 27th goals of the season. He will get a chance to add to that when Gent goes up against Club Brugge in a play-off to determine who will get a chance at competing in Europe next season.

author

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.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: