Antwerp has a six out of six. The Great Old won on Sunday evening deservedly but without much surplus against Zulte Waregem (1-0). Michel-Ange Balikwisha went from zero to hero in twenty minutes.
Sunday night games at 9pm: no one really a fan of it. But that first league match of the season at home? They were looking forward to that at Antwerp. De Bosuil was churning before the match against Zulte Waregem as usual. Both teams started with a lot of enthusiasm.
The quality of the football left something to be desired at times, but there was no shortage of spectacle. A total of eighteen shots were fired before half-time – each more precise than the other. The first danger came from the visitors. Jelle Vossen nodded a good cross from the right against the crossbar. The Tawny Owl held its breath for a moment.
No goals in the first half
Not for long, because the Antwerp answer was not long in coming. An industrious Nainggolan sent Balikwisha into the sixteen with a good pass. After a clever move he tried to outwit Bossut. In vain. Miyoshi also saw his attempt in the short corner in the recap.
The visitors continued to play football well, but it was Antwerp that increasingly pulled the sheet to itself. After a nice dribble, Nainggolan found Miyoshi on the right. The Japanese again decided too weak. On the other hand, it was his near-namesake Miroshi who threatened. The Tanzanian tried with a volley from the second line. Butez was troubled by it, but stood firm.
Halfway through the first half, the candle went out briefly on both sides. We had to wait until the last five minutes of the first period for a few new power surges. But Gerkens and Balikwisha also did not get past Bossut. Everything to play after rest.
Antwerp eagerly came out of the dressing room. Frey was cleverly sent into the depths after barely a minute, could only reach the goal and saw the detached Balikwisha at the far post. He could almost run the ball into goal, but saw his opportunity saved from the line by the returned Bossut. A painful miss. Fortunately for him, that pain was eased by the fact that near-assist giver Frey turned out to have left from offside.
The pace remained scorching after the break – with danger on both sides – but by the middle of the second half, there had still been no goals. In minute 68, Balikwisha felt the time had come to correct his mistake. After a good tap from Frey, Vines was able to cross from the left. Balikwisha pushed in in one go. From hell to heaven. In barely twenty minutes.
Antwerp played the game calmly after that – Miroshi made it a bit more difficult for Zulte Waregem fifteen minutes before the end with an avoidable second yellow card. Antwerp is behind his name after two matches with a fine six out of six. The Great Old will travel with confidence to the Norwegian Lillestrøm this week for the vital qualifier in the Conference League.
Antwerp: Butez, De Laet, Alderweireld, Almeida, Vines, Yusuf, Gerkens, Miyoshi (69′ Valencia), Nainggolan (87′ Verstraete), Balikwisha (87′ Fischer), Frey (69′ Janssen)
Zulte Waregem: Bossut, Ciranni (85′ Demuynck), Tambedou (85′ Willen), Lopez, Drambaiev, Sissako, Rommens, Miroshi, Sangare (61′ Fadera), Vossen (79′ Tsouka), Dompé (85′ Sylla)
Goals: 68′ Balikwisha (Vines) 1-0
Yellow cards: 43′ Miroshi, 75′ Miroshi, 75′ Tambedou, 89′ De Laet, 90′ Janssen
Red cards: 75′ Miroshi (two yellow)
Referee: Lothar D’Hondt