A perfect week for Club Brugge: Wednesday European glory, Sunday victory in the squatter at Anderlecht (0-1). They will be really disappointed there, because the Purple & White had plenty of chances to score. But Nielsen scored, and San Simon saved the furniture. In a crazy lock – including an exclusion for Sylla – Mignolet turned out to be a miracle man with three (insane) saves.
It had already been four home games since Anderlecht could once again win against the arch-rival in the Lotto Park: in April 2021 it became 2-1. Not a single player from that team was at kick-off on Sunday-evening. But in the base: the 17-year-old Stassin, a surprise from chef Mazzu. He had to compete against the same Bruges eleven that was going to stunt on Atlético’s field in the Champions League on Wednesday. Normally Hoefkens invariably changes five or six players after a European midweek, now everyone stopped. Did that pay off? Not immediately, because the sharpness was completely lacking at Club.
Anderlecht had huge chances to take the lead before the break. First Fabio put Silva incomprehensibly wide from the left, then Mignolet was grateful for the post after a good deviation from Stassin. Blue-black stood there and watched it: there it was a lot of sloppy passes and bad decisions in the zone of truth. The most dangerous moments? Jutgla who went down on the edge of the box and rightly didn’t get a penalty. And Nielsen who chased a free kick next to the intersection from 25 meters. Not enough for Club, which clearly had tired legs. Hoefkens was annoyed: too little eagerness, too little grinta. Was that because of the Madrid fiesta? It would have been worst for Anderlecht: they had smelled blood. But they had missed the momentum.
Nielsen breaks the ban
Hoefkens did not intervene during the break, but his players will undoubtedly have read the Levites. That soon became apparent: the game picture changed. Anderlecht were immediately stuck against the goal and could be happy that Sowah shot a dot of a chance right at Van Crombrugge. Jutgla’s preparatory work and the accompanying heel deserved more. The latter then gave it a try. First the little Spaniard won a duel against Hoedt, then he fired with the left. Van Crombrugge floated from the farthest corner. The Bruges threat now became more and more concrete, because Sylla was allowed to head freely on the following corner.
But Anderlecht also managed to score. Murillo reached Arnstad on the edge of the box, but his shot was caught by Mignolet. The rebound didn’t help either. The match was once again more balanced under the impulse of an industrious Fabio Silva. He then made two bad decisions in an outbreak. You couldn’t blame Anderlecht for good will. On the contrary. But in top players you have to grab your moments. Just ask Casper Nielsen. He knows what winning is at Anderlecht, because he did it twice last year with Union. And he set Club on the road to another victory. Finally a smooth Bruges combination, and finally a goal. Sowah served Vanaken, who remained calm for Van Crombrugge and cut again. The onrushing Nielsen just missed the ball. The Dane sprinted to the main stand and slid to his knees with a clenched fist. Club should have struggled, but was ahead.
San Simon again
To completely kill the match, Hoefkens threw in three fresh forces for the final quarter: Mata, Meijer and Yaremchuk came in. Club went to play with four in the back. That turned out to be necessary. Anderlecht did everything they could, but they also learned in Brussels San Simon know. Mignolet pulled out with a fabulous reflex on a header by Hoedt and also pushed a stray cross by Verschaeren out of his goal. And also a third miracle came. Refaelov always had to score from close range, but Mignolet just kept the ball out of his goal in two times. Madness, and purple and white near despair. We got another crazy ending with a leading role for Sylla: she got red and actually wanted to tackle ref Visser. The young Ivorian went completely crazy.
Club can go to Bruges on a thief with three points and thus approach six points from new-fangled leader Genk. Anderlecht is disappointed: they are already eight points behind the Champions Play-offs.
Goals: 69′ Nielsen 0-1 (Vanaken)
Anderlecht: Van Crombrugge, Debast, Hoedt, Vertonghen, Murillo, Arnstad (87′ Esposito), Stroeykens, Diawara (74′ Verschaeren), N’Diaye (74′ Amuzu), Stassin (60′ Refaelov), Silva
Club Brugge: Mignolet, Odoi (73′ Mata), Mechele, Sylla, Buchanan, Skov Olsen (73′ Meijer), Nielsen (85′ Balanta), Onyedika, Vanaken, Sowah, Jutgla (73′ Yaremchuk)
Yellow cards: 39′ Odoi, 76′ Vertonghen, 90′ Meijer, 90′ Onyedika
Red cards: 90′ Sulla
Referee: Lawrence Visser