MICHAEL ADUBATO - Monday, March 11, 2013
Anderlecht had to work hard against a stubborn Mechelen defense but Tom De Sutter's goal around the hour mark sealed the points for the champions at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.
Sacha Kljestan went the distance in the midfield. He had a chance in the first half to light up the scoreboard but was turned away by Tomislav Pacovski between the Mechelen sticks. As a matter of fact, it was the Macedonian shot stopper who kept his team in the game for as long as he did by turning away a well-struck long distance effort by Lucas Biglia and then denied De Sutter from closer range.
Mechelen's defender Sheldon Bateau also saved the Kakkers from going behind in the first half when he made a goal line clearance from Guillaume Gillet's shot that he was sure was going to ripple the net. With the lion's share of possession and several first half chances, Pacovski's goal could not be breached.
The second half was a different story. Mechelen came out the more motivated team and made sure that les Mauves had less of the ball. It was not necessarily quantity but quality and De Sutter proved this by using his head when he made contact with Ronald Vargas' cross.
The home team grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and went in search of the goal that would put the game to bed. Lucas Biglia, who came off the substitute's bench after being sidelined by injury, came close but to no avail. Demy De Zeeuw found himself alone in front of the Mechelen goal after Vargas picked him out, but the Dutchman choked and missed an easy chance to score his first goal of the season.
The victory kept Anderlecht atop the standings but also increased their lead to six points after Zulte Waregem fell to Club Brugge. Next week will be the last game of the regular season and les Mauves will travel to 11th place Gent, knowing that they have won the regular season and have a slight advantage when the playoffs roll around.