It was another weekend of enthralling action in Belgium as Standard Liege extended their seven point lead at the summit of the Pro League, beating Lokeren 1-0. Meanwhile, the best of the rest clashed at the Constant Vanden Stock, where Anderlecht played host to Club Brugge.
Week 23 began on Friday night, with Standard Liege making it 13 games unbeaten in a 1-0 win at Lokeren. Guy Luzon’s men were ahead after just nine minutes. Julien De Sart’s corner was met by Dino Arslanagic, but the defender’s header was diverted into his own by Lokeren’s Koen Persoons. Moments later Standard should have doubled their lead, but Geofrey Mujangi Bia’s effort couldn’t beat Lokeren’s Boubacar Barry. Mujangi Bia had further chances to make the game safe but this was all academic in hindsight, as the single goal was enough for the league leaders. Standard’s unbeaten run in the Pro League now stretches back to October. Lokeren, meanwhile, remain in fifth place.
Bottom of the pile Mons had the opportunity to close the ever-increasing gap to safety as they entertained Mechlen, who have also been looking over their shoulder in recent weeks despite winning their last two matches. Franky Vercauteren’s Mechelen prevailed, with goals from David Destorme and Jordi Vanlerberghe. The win leaves Mechelen in 11th place, but only six points from the drop zone. However Mons have far more to worry about – there are now nine points separating them from Leuven in 14th.
Leuven actually dragged themselves out of the drop zone in week 23, after overcoming fourth placed Zulte Waregem. Lukas Van Eenoo’s goal was the difference in a mightily impressive win, with the Cercle Brugge loanee breaking the deadlock just ten minutes into the second half. Zulte are now ten points behind leaders Standard Liege.
Waasland-Beveren replaced Leuven in the relegation zone, losing 2-1 at Oostende. Sebastian Siana’s opener for Oostende was cancelled out by Robin Henkens’ equaliser on 57 minutes, but 15 minutes from time Frederic Brilliant lived up to his name, netting the winner to leave Oostende in 12th.
Lierse emerged victorious in a seven-goal thriller at Kortrijk, a win which creates a slightly larger gap between themselves and Beveren in the relegation zone. Kortrijk took the lead after just two minutes, Thomas Matton firing home Ivan Santini’s pass. But Lierse hit back after 23 minutes through Tony Watt to level the scores. The former Celtic striker scored again on 52 minutes, putting Lierse ahead after Rachid Bourabia had equalised for the away side. Elimane Coulibaly reduced the deficit but Bourabia’s strike enhanced Lierse’s lead to two goals once more after 75 minutes. Kortrijk did threaten to take a point, but Santini’s goal after 87 minutes was the final action of an enthralling match.
There was a mid-table clash at the Jan Breydelstadion as Cercle Brugge comfortably disposed of Sporting Charleroi. Goals from Hans Cornelis, Michael Uchebo and Stephen Buyl moved Cercle up to ninth.
The first of Sunday’s double header saw Genk take on Gent at the Cristal Arena. The visitors took the lead after just nine minutes when Herve Kage found the net, Mahamadou Habibou with the assist. But the ever-impressive Jelle Vossen hit back for Genk 17 minutes later with his ninth league goal of the season. The winner came on the stroke of half time, Yaya Soumaharo getting the three points for Gent in a 2-1 win.
Week 23 of the Pro League ended on a high as second took on third in Brussels, where Club Brugge were the visitors to Anderlecht. After a fruitful first half, it looked as if the teams would go in to the break all square before Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrović broke the deadlock in Anderlecht’s favour. Club Brugge were arguably the better side in the second half but they emerged with nothing to show for it. Fabrice N’Salaka confirmed the win for the home side two minutes from time, finishing off a fine counter attack. Anderlecht’s 2-0 victory keeps them in second place, while Brugge remain in third but ten points behind Standard.
Lokeren 0 – 1 Standard Liege
Oostende 2 – 1 Waasland-Beveren
OH Leuven 1 – 0 Zulte Waregem
Kortrijk 3 – 4 Lierse
Mons 0 – 2 Mechelen
Cercle Brugge 3 – 0 Sporting Charleoi
Genk 1 – 2 Gent
Anderlecht 2 – 0 Club Brugge
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