MICHAEL ADUBATO - Thursday, April 18, 2013
In a very tight race for the Belgian championship, Sacha Kljestan hit the back of the net as Anderlecht downed Lokeren by three goals to none in Brussels.
After escaping from Brugge with a point over the weekend after Denis Odoi scored an own goal and then was red carded, the defending champions bounced back this evening with not only the American's goal but also one from Milan Jovanovic and one from Tom De Sutter.
Anderlecht needed all the points in this midweek play-off affair and things started well as their Serbian winger Jovanovic struck after just four minutes. Massimo Bruno charged up the right flank and picked out the ex-Liverpool man who had no problem heading it home since not a defender was in sight.
It was all too easy for les Mauves and on the half hour mark they doubled their score when De Sutter headed a Jovanovic cross past Barry Boubacar Copa in Lokeren's goal. Seven minutes later their American midfielder hit a screamer from outside the 18 yard box that Copa had no chance at all of getting a hand to it.
At the start of the second half the game showed signs of life for Lokeren when Olivier Deschacht was shown a straight red card after a dangerous tackle on Belgian midfielder Jore Trompet. This took place in the first minute of the second half. Overall it had no real effect on the game however as the visitor's were unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority.
The win leaves Anderlecht in first place after four of the ten play-off games. They have a four point lead over Standard Liege and Genk. On Thursday however, Zulte-Waregem will take on Club Brugge and a Waregem win would put them on 37 points, just two behind the leaders.
Next up for Kljestan and company will be a visit to Waregem on Sunday evening where they could surrender their top spot.