KV Mechelen seemed to have finished the job halfway through thanks to a beauty from Verstraete and an own goal from Miroshi. A 2-0 lead at halftime had to suffice against a very weak Zulte Waregem, but a mad phase shortly after the break caused a huge turnaround: Sangaré and Vossen actually made it 2-2. Both teams still had chances to win, but no more goals were scored in a swirling AFAS stadium.
There was no study round in the match: after a timid attempt by Vossen, the first real danger came from the home team: Da Cruz went for a walk and spread well, but Willen was able to relieve himself. In the reprise, Verstraete scored with a nice shot but Bostyn stood firm. Moments later, Ngoy did hit the mark, but the Malinwa striker had first checked the ball by hand, so the goal was rightly rejected by ref Van Damme.
The tone was immediately set. The home players went in search of a quick opening goal, while Zulte Waregem made tactical adjustments early on: Leye gave Vossen a more central role, in order to gain just a little more control over the game. However, without immediate results. Malinwa continued to dominate, while the visitors were unable to keep up with the ball up front.
It didn’t take long for that goal to be scored. Hairemans reached Verstraete with a corner who was all alone in the axis of the field. The midfielder did not hesitate and kicked in wonderfully from more than 20 meters. Bostyn knocked and the feeling grew in Essevee that it could be a very long afternoon. Offensively, it barely got a foothold as Malinwa continued to develop a brisk pace.
And if Zulte Waregem did become dangerous; It once again showed how difficult it was for Leye’s strikers to score: Offor had the opportunity to equalize twice, but the Nigerian always aimed for an attentive Coucke, ignoring Gano, who clearly showed his displeasure. Moments later, Offor also got yellow after a much too bold tackle. Symptomatic of his performance before rest.
Hairemans seemed to decide the match before the break, but his goal was also canceled by ref Van Damme due to Ngoy’s annoying offside. It was only a stay of execution for Zulte Waregem because when Ngoy juggled on the back line, Miroshi deviated his cross into his own goal. 2-0 after 41 minutes, Zulte Waregem just couldn’t cope with the Mechelen attack waves before half-time.
Halfway through Leye understandably let Offor take a shower immediately, the Essevee striker was really put out of his misery. Sangaré was thrown into the fray but he too could not help the game change. Mechelen continued to combine cheerfully and play opportunities together. Bostyn immediately had to go full steam ahead with a bang from Storm and pushed a shot from Da Cruz against his goal frame.
It was actually waiting for more disaster for the visitors, but suddenly Sangaré scored the connecting goal. Ref Van Damme and VAR Lardot took their time and studied the images very carefully, but the goal was finally approved. An unexpected boost for Essevee, while Malinwa was briefly upset.
It was almost immediately equal when Sissako narrowly headed over on a corner and a minute later Van Damme pointed to the spot after Verstraete’s hand play: Vossen proved once again that he has nerves of steel and the visitors cold-bloodedly kicked KV Mechelen (2- 2).
Defour immediately intervened and brought Malede and Van Hecke in front of Storm and Da Cruz. Malinwa went looking for a new lead but it was necessary to pay attention because the reborn visitors were lurking. Malede then tried it from a distance, Bostyn let the ball slip for a while but was still able to save.
It could really go either way, but the visitors ended up with ten when Sissako swallowed his second yellow card of the afternoon. Still, Leye’s ten didn’t give up. Vossen slipped through the offside trap and neatly served Fadera but he also couldn’t finish it in two times.
The signal for Mechelen to start a final offensive, but it did not go beyond a few pressing phases in front of Bostyn’s cage. 2-2 as the end result after a very exciting game of football in which the visitors in particular were able to start the journey back with a good feeling. The home team was (and rightly so) very disappointed after a very poor performance in the second half.
KV Mechelen: Coucke, Walsh, Hairemans (81′ Soelle Soelle), Ngoy, Storm (63′ Malede), Schoofs, Van Hoorenbeeck, Bolingoli, Da Cruz (63′ Van Hecke), Bates, Verstraete
Zulte Waregem: Bostyn, Sissako, Fadera (81′ Drambaev), Vossen (81′ Vigen), Ciranni, Tambedou, Rommens, Miroshi, Offor (46′ Sangare), Willen, Gano (90′ Ndour)
Goals: 16′ Verstraete 1-0, 41′ Miroshi 2-0, 54′ Sangaré 2-1, 61′ Vossen 2-2
Yellow cards: 36′ Offor, 44′ Sissako, 66′ Rommens, 80′ Van Hecke
Red cards: 75′ Sissako (2x gel)
Referee: Kevin Van Damme