DAVID SMITH - Monday, August 22, 2011
Sacha Kljestan played the full game in Anderlecht's midfield on Sunday, as an inspired second-half performance saw the ten-man team fight back from a two-goal deficit to pull even with RAEC Mons.
Anderlecht's best chance of the first half came in the 18th minute, as Kljestan sent former Liverpool striker Milan Jovanovic through on goal, but his shot was well blocked by the foot of Mons keeper Cedric Berthelin.
Mons were close ten minutes later when a Zola Matumona free kick from the left side slipped through the box, but was excellently blocked by keeper Silvio Proto when he made an instantaneous reaction to get his foot in the way.
In the 37th minute, Jeremy Perbet looked to have put the visitors ahead with a lunging header, but was ruled just offside by the referee.
The major high point of the half was one for the visitors, after Anderlecht were reduced to ten min at the stroke of halftime when a challenge by defender Samuel on Perbet was deemed excessive enough for a red.
Having the opportunity to play with an extra man on the field, Mons needed just 13 minutes to jump ahead, as Matumona broke behind the defense on the right side, and picked out Perbet streaking up the middle.
The free-scoring French striker made it look easy, striking the ball with his first touch from the edge of the box to the upper right corner for 1-0.
The Mons lead was doubled three minutes afterwards again thanks to the fine setup work of Matumona, who receive the ball near the touchline in the left side of the penalty area and sent a low cross to the other side, where Rachid Bourabia could stick his foot out to redirect it over the line.
Anderlecht were, however unwilling to go quietly into the night and saw a nearly instantaneous turnaround coinciding with the introduction of Nathan Kabasele into the game in the 65th minute.
Two minutes after taking the field, the 17 year-old striker received the ball on a run into the right side of the area from Kljestan, and put his acute-angled shot past the keeper to the far post to cut the lead to a single goal.
He showed he can serve them up as well as he can score them ten minutes later, battling to maintain possession at the left edge of the area then firing a centering pass back to Lucas Biglia 20 yards straight out. The Argentine took a couple steps to get space and fired his low shot just inside the right upright to earn his team a much-deserved point.
Anderlecht do fall to fifth with the draw, but are only two points off the lead in a tight pack atop the Jupiler League. They have a tense return leg against Bursaspor on Thursday night in the Europa League, then visit second-place FC Brügge three days later.