AA Gent with resounding victory to the jump-offs of the Conference League

AA Gent with resounding victory to the jump-offs of the Conference League

AA Gent has done what it had to do: beat Molde. The Buffalos were way too strong for the visitors at home with 4-0 thanks to goals from Hjulsager, Godeau, Kums and Cuypers. Good for the second place in Group F and the associated ticket for the jump-offs of the Conference League. Whoever wins there (against a third of the Europa League), can go to the 1/8th finals.

No Cuypers in the Ghent base eleven. The top scorer of the Buffalos was given a rest, so that Depoitre appeared at the kick-off. On the left, Salah was favored over Nurio. Hjulsager and Hong then started in the pockets behind deep striker Depoitre. Odjidja and Kums had to ensure the necessary balance in the team.

That was not counted on Okumu, who lost the ball twice in the opening phase and thus caused unrest in the Ghent ranks. It marked the tension that was on this game for the home team. Only a victory was enough for a European winter and to prevent a restless run-up to the Battle of Flanders on Sunday.

The choice to post Salah on the left wingback was quite daring, but the young from Brussels was at the basis of the first noteworthy attack from Ghent, but Samoise was unable to continue it. It was already clear then that Ghent would have their hands full with a stiff Molde that also threw in the punch. Samoise was soon able to experience this firsthand, the Gentenaar had to give up the fight even after half an hour.

Photo: BELGA

If the Norwegian visitors did drop a stitch, the Buffalos neglected to accept the gift. Just in a stationary phase. Ngadeu ran free on a corner and headed well to the ground, but the ball went half a meter wide. Depoitre was also well positioned by Hjulsager but the Ghent striker was unable to time well and saw his header go high.

It was typical for the Ghent first half. Full of good intentions, but the interplay showed too many fits and starts. Chances could therefore be counted on the fingers of one hand. The best opportunity was ultimately for Nurio: Okumu sent a great cross from the right, but the Angolan headed over incomprehensibly. The unrest among the Ghent fans grew along the sidelines.

Hjulsager strikes just after the break

In that first half, AA Gent had 64% possession, but only three of the fourteen attempts were ‘on target’. Efficiency, it has often been the problem with the Buffalos this season. At the start of the second period, the Ghent fans once again got behind their team and created some atmosphere in the soaking wet Ghelamco Arena. Vanhaezebrouck did not pass any switches halfway through.

And Molde? The Norwegians mainly limited themselves to defending. They didn’t do that unkindly. Until Hong in midfield decided to switch quickly and Hjulsager played. The Dane saw an opening and surprised the visiting goalkeeper in the short corner (1-0). The spell seemed broken but the Norwegians did not give in. Lövik reacted immediately but decided to go wide.

On the other side, Hong, Depoitre and Nurio were unable to pull the trigger in one and the same phase, so it still remained exciting. Moments later, it was hit when Depoitre deviated a free kick from Kums to Godeau, which doubled Ghent’s lead. Suddenly Ghent was swinging like in the heyday of 2015. Odjidja and Hjulsager took their chance but decided narrowly over Karlström’s cage.

Mission accomplished, Vanhaezebrouck judged and threw three new players into the fray. Saving strength for Sunday, you know. Molde was still looking for a connecting goal and very occasionally you could feel the slumbering unrest among some Ghent players.

However, they were no longer allowed to hand this over and that did not happen: director Hong launched Kums and he finished it off nicely. 3-0, the books were allowed to close. Hauge forced another light penalty. Cuypers did not hesitate and converted it flawlessly: 4-0 and the Ghelamco Arena shook the old-fashioned way.

Beauty prizes were, however, completely irrelevant in the current circumstances. The European qualification all the more so. AA Gent remains active in Europe and that, after all the problems of the past few weeks, is definitely a boost for the Ghent football family. This victory could mean the start of a new Ghent spring. Confirmation is required, preferably against Club Brugge on Sunday.

Line-up AA Ghent: Nardi; Okumu, Ngadeu, Godeau; Samoise (33′ Nurio), Kums, Odjidja (83′ De Sart), Salah (71′ Hauge); Hjulsager (71′ Cuypers), Hong; Depoitre (71′ Owusu)

Molde setup: Karlstrom; Hansen, Haugan, Risa; Knudtzon, Kaasa (63′ Eriksen), Mannsverk (73′ Hussain), Breivik, Lövik; Brynhildsen (73′ Grödem), Eikrem (63′ Fofana)

Goals: 52′ Hjulsager 1-0, 62′ Godeau 2-0, 80′ Kums 3-0, 89′ Cuypers (penalty kick) 4-0

Gele kaarten: Risa, Hjulsager, Lövik, Eriksen

Red cards: /

Referee: Sebastian Gishamer (Austria)

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