MICHAEL ADUBATO - Monday, January 25, 2021
Five of the six Americans in Belgium saw action over the weekend with mixed fortunes. One of them was Mark McKenzie who made his debut for KRC Genk in their clash against Club Brugge.
Anderlecht 0-0 Waasland-Beveren
In this Pro League clash that should have pitted Yank-vs-Yank, it was only Anderlecht's Matt Miazga who saw significant minutes in this scoreless draw at Lotto Park in Brussels on Friday night. Joe Efford came off the bench in the 89th minute, so didn't even get to work up a sweat as the two teams shared the points.
Although they're having a terrible season as they remain in the relegation zone, the Lions scraped out a valuable point against les Mauves, after doing the same against fellow strugglers Excel Mouscron midweek. Anderlecht returned to winning ways in their midweek clash against Sporting Charleroi with an emphatic 3-0 win but this slip-up has moved them up to fourth place although the teams around them have a game in hand.
As expected, Vincent Kompany's team dominated the game with 70% possession and nine shots on goal, compared to W-B's solitary effort (and one that missed the target). Still, with 13 corner kicks to add to that, they just could not breach the yellow-blue defensive wall.
It was however the visitors who looked like they might score first when Michael Frey got in the box and passed back to Alessandro Albanese but he was unfortunate that Chelsea loanee, Miazga was on hand to snuff out the danger.
In the second half, Anderlecht played more with a sense of urgency and peppered the visitor's goal but even another loanee (from Manchester City) Lukas Nmecha's cleverly struck chopper couldn't beat the keeper. In order to change things up, Kompany brought on his newest acquisition Abdoulay Diaby, on loan from Sporting Lisbon but the man from Mali could make no difference.
With the result, the W-B team would be the happiest, while it's back to the drawing board for the Brussels team before more midweek games coming up. Anderlecht will head south-west to take on Mouscron on Wednesday, while the Lions host KV Mechelen on the same night.
Kortrijk 1-2 Cercle Brugge
Brendan Hines-Ike started the game for KV Kortrijk at the left-back position at the Guldensporen Stadium but went a goal down halfway through the first half and the team never recovered as they lost the contest by a 2-1 scoreline against strugglers Cercle Brugge.
The game got underway on a very swamp-like field due to the rain and it was the hosts who got the first sniff at goal. A KVK free-kick fell to Gilles Dewaele but the Cercle keeper, Thomas Didillon was able to keep it out of his net.
The breakthrough came in the 23rd minute but it was the Englishman from the visitor's team, Ike Ugbo, scoring his 11th goal of the season. Five minutes later their next goal came from Serbian defender, Strahinja Pavlović, off a corner kick. And with the clock winding down, the Green & Blacks thought that they would be taking a two-goal lead into the locker room at the half but Kortrijk had other ideas.
The Kerels bore down on goal with Teddy Chevalier striking it at Didillion. But Yevhen Makarenko got the job done and tucked the ball into the back of the net in the 45th minute.
With chances at both ends in the second half, nothing became of any of them and Cercle was happy about that, heading home with all the points in the bag. Kortrijk, having lost their last three games, will head to Antwerp on Wednesday night to take on Beerschot.
Club Brugge 3-2 Genk
Mark McKenzie got his European soccer career underway as he went the distance for Genk against the defending Belgian champions. Ethan Horvath remained on the bench for Club Brugge however but he was the happiest of the Americans with the 3-2 victory on Sunday afternoon.
It was a seesaw game where Club took an early lead only to see it disappear in the first half. They did recover after the intermission and made things right with a pair of strikes from Ruud Vormer and Brandon Mechele.
Playing his first competitive game in three months, McKenzie faced a tough baptism of fire in the Genk defense and held his own although he has not had too many training sessions under his belt.
Club's January signing, Bas Dost is fast becoming a prolific goal-getter for his new team, scoring his fourth goal in four games. His latest came after just seven minutes, assisted by Noa Lang. Seventeen minutes later, however, it was all square again when Ito Junya bagged his sixth of the season. And 10 minutes before the half the Japanese striker turned provider, picking up the assist for his Swiss teammate Bastien Toma.
Having played a tough 1-1 draw against Gent on Thursday night, it was evident that the Smurfs were tiring in the second half and their hosts took full advantage, first with Vormer's 65th-minute strike and then with just a dozen minutes left, Mechele pounced and scored.
The victory over second-place Genk opened the gap between the two teams to 12 points, giving the Brugge boys a very comfortable cushion with just 11 games remaining in the regular season. They should have an easy time on Thursday night when they will be the away team in their own stadium when they face relegation-threatened Cercle Brugge. Genk will host Zulte-Waregem on Wednesday night.
Sint-Truiden 0-2 Excel Mouscron
Chris Durkin started on the wing at the Stayen as his Canaries couldn't find the back of the net against Mouscron, but at the same time surrendered a pair of goals.
It did take until the half-hour mark for Alessandro Ciranni to get the scoring underway and things only got better for the team that has now gotten itself out of the relegation zone with the three points. In the second half, with just a minute left on the clock of regulation time, Dimitri Mohamed struck from the penalty spot.
The loss means that Sint Truiden continues to struggle and are just a few points out of the danger zone. They'll be on the road midweek when they head west to take AA Gent team that has been having a few problems with scoring goals as well.