For 51 minutes, the players of Zulte Waregem kept hope alive. At halftime they were even ahead thanks to a goal from Vossen. Next, Brys threw substitutes Gonzalez and Kiyine into the fray and that turned out to be a golden move. The two summer acquisitions of OH Leuven destroyed the local defense. Essevee conceded three goals in just fifteen minutes and is left with five losses in a row. The relegation specter manifests itself very emphatically at the gates of the Elindus Arena. OH Leuven then picks up neatly after the slide against Union.
Tambedou was not fit for the home team. Leye again kicked off youngster Willen and could also call on Ramirez, who was still missing in Westerlo last week due to suspension. The line-up of the visitors caused a surprise: Nsingi was preferred over Gonzalez in the front. Holzhauser started again on the bench.
OH Leuven confidently claimed possession in the opening quarter, but committed sloppy ball controls a little too often. A shortcoming that also played tricks on Zulte Waregem in that first match phase. Both teams went on the attack, but their good intentions were often nipped in the bud at an early stage.
Willen appeared on a pass from Drambaien in a promising position, but the young defender was shocked and kicked the ball right out. It did not immediately inspire his teammates to great deeds. Even though Fadera came closest to scoring, his effort went wide.
On the other side, things went anything but smooth before the break. Malinov and De Norre tried to get the Leuven engine going, but they were unsuccessful. Thorsteinsson was also often noticed with excellent running actions, but after the Icelander was kicked hard by Tsouka, who promptly received a yellow card from ref De Cremer, he hit the post in the next phase.
In the meantime, Zulte Waregem did not exactly fill up with extra confidence. A wrong play-in pass in the home defense was intercepted by an attentive Maertens. The Leuven midfielder did not hesitate and took his chance from more than 35 meters, but his shot missed the right direction. The grumbling among the Essevee fans did not diminish when Ramirez once again lost the ball on the edge of the Leuven sixteen.
Leuven let herself be rocked to sleep and that cost them dearly. After Malinov lost the ball, Ndour served Vossen and the attacker who finished his 400th game in the Jupiler Pro League, Cojocaru left no chance with a dry bang in the short corner. Vossen let his frustrations run free and kicked the corner flag to smithereens. It immediately came to him on a yellow cardboard.
Gonzalez en Kiyine to the rescue
The visitors promptly awoke from their beauty sleep and it took a fine Bossut to float Tamari’s shot into a corner. Brys was clearly not amused and immediately brought in Gonzalez and Kiyine instead of Nsingi and Thorsteinsson. However, this double intervention did not inspire OH Leuven to a blistering start in that second period. But when De Norre went down to Gonzalez, the signs were actually equal again. Goal number four for the Spanish attacker who is loaned out by Braga to OH Leuven.
Zulte Waregem tried to recover from that new blow as quickly as possible and Fadera soon had a dot of a chance but his lob flew next to Cojocaru’s cage. The visitors reacted sharply and now that other substitute was at the party: Kiyine trumped Sissako in midfield and the 25-year-old midfielder who was snatched from Lazio Roma, kicked the ball wonderfully past a hopeless Bossut. The home players no longer immediately had a reaction in the house and OH Leuven smelled blood: Mendyl served Gonzalez and he did not miss this opportunity. For example, after 65 minutes there was 1-3 on the scoreboard.
Meanwhile, the home fans are already pouring out in droves. The atmosphere at the Gaverbeek dropped well below freezing point. The OHL fans who traveled along did not mind and had a great party. It almost even became 1-4, but Drambaiev cleared the ball after an unfortunate deviation by Vossen just before the goal line. Fadera actually got it on his hips with so much sadness and chased the ball through De Norre’s body against the nets (2-3). Moments later, the new hopes of the home side were again crushed when Gonzalez escaped. The Spaniard remained calm and passed to De Norre, who again doubled the Leuven lead.
To make matters worse, Braem, who had just come in, also took a red card after an apparently innocent intervention on Maertens. Or not. VAR Vermeiren intervened: ref De Cremer rushed to the screen and revised his decision. Keita also came between the lines of the visitors in the final phase. The first minutes for the 20-year-old midfielder after a serious foot injury. The party then dragged on to the end. Gonzalez finally took care of the final chord with his third goal of the evening – on a pass from Kiyine.
Goals: 40′ Vossen 1-0 (Ndour), 51′ Gonzalez 1-1 (De Norre), 58′ Kiyine 1-2, 65′ Gonzalez 1-3 (Mendyl), 74′ Fadera 2-3, 77′ De Norre 2-4 (Gonzalez), 90′ Gonzalez (Kiyine) 2-5
Zulte Waregem: Bossut, Derijck, Willen, Ramirez (63′ Sangaré), Tsouka (75′ Miroshi), Rommens, Sissako (75′ Braem), Drambaiev (88′ Vigen), Fadera, Vossen, Ndour (63′ Offor)
OHL: Cojocaru, Patris (90′ Ngawa), Pletinckx, Ricca, Tamari, Malinov (84′ Keita), De Norre, Mendyl (88′ Ouedraogo), Maertens, Thorsteinsson (46′ Kiyine), Nsingi (46′ Gonzalez)
Yellow cards: 25′ Tsouka, 30′ Nsingi, 41′ Vossen, 61′ Drambaiev, 62′ Willen, 80′ Braem, 80′ Offor, 80′ Malinov
Referee: Wesli De Cremer