Anderlecht hosted the Groen-Zwart at Lotto Park on the occasion of the 29th matchday in the Jupiler Pro League. Beforehand, Cercle had a four point lead over the Purple & White, making them the most feared competitor for the team from Brussels in the battle for a place in the European Play-Offs. Coach Miron Muslic again kept faith with to the same eleven players that had picked up three points at home against Seraing last week.
Cercle loses 2-0 to RSCA
The importance of this match could be measured by the number of spectators. The Lotto Park was almost fully packed before Cercle's arrival. And those fans immediately pushed their team forward. Slimani got on to a long ball and laid it off for Dreyer, but a fantastic save from Warleson prevented an early opening goal. Five minutes later the Algerian would find the goal as the hosts' winter signing hammered in the ball at the near post.
Until then, Cercle had not yet found an answer to Anderlecht coach Riemer's tactical plan. The Dane had set his side up well, although some poor moves from our Groen-Zwart also contributed After seventeen minutes, though, we looked to have a chance at equalising. Verschaeren came out with a little too much confidence in the penalty area, and Francis seemed to have reached the ball earlier and went down, but VAR also saw no problem with it. From then, Cercle needed an excellent Warleson to stay afloat. A deflected pass landed right at the feet of Verschaeren, who didn't finish convincingly enoughfrom close range. Moments later, Slimani failed to get an unmissable rebound from Dreyer on target. On the half hour, Cercle fired to life. Denkey found his fellow striker Ueda with an excellent ball back inside, but Cercle's top scorer aimed too centrally. Shortly afterwards, Siquet sent a cross past the far post. But that did not satisfy the hosts' hunger. A deviated cross from Amuzu was just outside Warleson's reach but Slimani and Murillo couldn't get a foot to it either. The home crowd sighed en masse, especially after no one could get on to a cross from Dreyer. But it could have been even worse: Slimani squeezed between Popovic and Ravych and seemed to have set up Verschaeren for the 2-0, but his finish was incomprehensibly weak. We thus hoped for a better second half, at least on the part of the Groen-Zwart.
Our goalkeeper also had to play guardian angel in the second half. Dreyer was unable to finish from some strong combination play, while a free kick from Arnstand grazed the crossbar and Slimani was unable to turn Arnstad's cross into goal. The storm then subsided for a while, except for a mixup between Popovic and Amuzu.
20 minutes before the end there was a huge chance for our Groen-Zwart. Daland had an effort from 30 meters and forced Verbruggen into a big save, but the Denkey, following the ball well, pushed the ball wide of goal on the rebound. Lotto Park would again erupt five minutes from time, though, after the ball ended up at Slimani's feet. The Algerian had all the time in the world in the six yard box and did not miss making it 2-0. In injury time, Denkey was sent off for a wild foul on Vertonghen, who had made life miserable for him throughout the match. Cercle would never really impose themselves in this game at Lotto Park and needed an excellent Warleson to avoid it being a wider margin.
Cercle Brugge: 21. Warleson, 4. Daland, 5. Popovic, 9. Kevin Denkey, 14. Vanhoutte (22. Lopes 64’), 17. Francis, 23. Deman, 34. Somers, 36. Ueda, 41. Siquet (10. Hotic 80’), 66. Ravych (11. Gboho 88’)
Anderlecht: 16. Verbruggen, 7. Amuzu (9. Raman 84'), 10. Verschaeren, 13. Slimani (29. Stroeykens 88’), 14. Vertonghen, 18. Ashimeru (11. Refaelov 75’), 35. Dreyer, 54. Sardella, 56. Debast, 61. Arnstad (71. Leoni 88’), 62. Murillo