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Goals from Matondo and Denkey are not enough in Leuven

On the 27th matchday of the Jupiler Pro League, Cercle were headed to OH Leuven. Matondo gave the Groen-Zwart the lead after half an hour, before Maertens equalized, but Denkey made it 1-2 at halftime. In the second half, Leuven turned the tables  to get a win, with goals from Kaba and Tamari.

Coach Dominik Thalhammer had to make some changes to his starting eleven due to a lot of absences. As a result, there were places for Velkovsky, Kanouté and Denkey.

Leuven started the game well, and it took a while before the Groen-Zwart got their organization right. After the opening phases of play, however, we easily kept pace, settling into a fine rhythm. Cercle even took the lead via Matondo. After a throw-in, Deman was allowed too much space from the Leuven defense. Runarsson was unable to kick the ball clear, and Rabbi was quick to open the scoring.

Five minutes before half time there was a similar situation at the other end. Tamari let fly with a curling effort and Didillon punched the ball away, only to have it fall to Maertens' feet, who leveled the score. Nearing the end of the half, though, Velkovski curled a free kick in, finding the head of Kevin Denkey who headed it into the corner.

The Groen-Zwart came out of the dressing room with the lead and Thalhammer made two changes, bringing on Sousa and Lopes Da Silva. Cercle were pinning Leuven in their own half, but just past the hour the hosts broke quickly through via Mercier and Maertens. The ball eventually went to De Norre who lofted his cross toward Kaba's head. Leuven's man in form did not miss and headed past Didillon to make it 2-2.

Less than five minutes later the home team would even take the lead. Moussa Tamari broke forward up the left and was picked out by Maertens against Didillon. Miangue couldn't keep up with him, and with a well-placed shot the Cercle goalkeeper was also beaten. The goal went to VAR, after the linesman had ruled it offside, but that was not the case.

Substitutes Ganvoula and Sampers were also unable to disrupt the OHL defense after that. Come full time, Cercle had lost at the King Power at Den Dreef stadium and saw OHL move ahead of it in the table.

OH Leuven: Runarsson, Patris (Ngawa 89'), Ouédraogo, Dewaest, Tamari, Schrijvers, Malinov, De Norre, Mercier (Keita 93), Kaba and Maertens.

Cercle: Didillon, Daland, Popovic, Vitinho, Miangue, Van der Bruggen (Sampers 88’), Kanouté (Lopes Da Silva 46’), Velkovski (Sousa 46’), Deman, Matondo and Denkey (Ganvoula 69’).

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Cercle seemed on their way to a deserved home win for a long time, but thanks to two late penalties, the visitors were able to pull out a draw. It was too meager a reward for Cercle, who failed to make progress in the table with this point.

Senna Miangue made his return last week as a substitute and was now back in the eleven. After a quiet opening twenty minutes in which only Denkey's attempt on Hubert's goal was a real threat, Cercle took control of the game. After some good build-up play by Dino Hotic, Denkey failed to find the net, as Hubert made a good save with his feet. Then, as the Oostende 'keeper was well-beaten by Hannes Van der Bruggen's placed ball, he was saved by his crossbar.

While referee Lardot initially did not respond to a call from VAR for a possible handball by Tanghe, a penalty for Cercle followed shortly after. Hotic turned his his defender, Medley, who fouled our playmaker. Kevin Denkey would take the penalty, but Hubert was able to push his effort away for a corner. The breakthrough came on the resulting corner: Popovic had a free header, Hubert was unable to hold his effort and the ball fell to Kevin Denkey (38', 1-0), who would score his first goal of the season.

Goals are sometimes like a bus: you wait a long time for one and then suddenly two come in quick succession. After a nice bit of skill by Dino Hotic and a through ball from Hannes Van der Bruggen, Ueda was able to double the lead just before the interval. In this way Cercle would go into halftime with a deserved lead.

The visitors reacted with three changes at half time and two more substitutions around the hour mark, but those didn't change the character of game much. Ueda failed to make it 3-0 from close range, which in retrospect would be a turning point in the match. The visitors became a little quicker on long balls and were thus able to beat the Cercle defense for the first time. Berte would get in behind, but Majecki denied him with a good save.

In the match's final quarter, things would go wrong for Cercle. After an intervention from VAR, Lardot tossed Oostende a lifeline by awarding a penalty for handball by Robbe Decostere. Majecki was able to keep Ambrose's effort out of this goal (76'), but he was able to score the visitors' opener via a follow-up from Sakamoto. Cercle seemed a bit unsettled and the visitors took advantage by scoring another penalty just a few minutes later. Ambrose (82', 2-2) left Majecki no chance this time, levelling the score. In the match's final stanza, Cercle could not turn the tide, as the best opportunities would fall to McGeehan.


Cercle: Majecki, Decostere, Popovic, Marcelin (Daland 72'), Miangue (Heitor 72'), Van der Bruggen (Vanhoutte 62'), Da Silva Lopes, Hotic, Deman (Gboho 88'), Ueda (Wilke 88') and Denkey.

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Although Cercle tried to pull into the lead in the opening phases of play, league leader Antwerp took the lead with their first chance. Ekkelenkamp got forward on the right and found his teammate Janssen with a cross -- all the Dutch striker had to do was simply tap the ball in. The Groen-Zwart continued to play football with good intentions and tried to take the initiative, but in the final third their efforts lacked a cutting edge. The visitors played a well organized brand of football and tried to switch play quickly in possession. However, that did not result in many opportunities. Cercle would threaten through shots from distance. Twice, it took a good save from Butez to stop Hotic's free kick, while an effort from Miangue wasn't far away, either. An efficient Antwerp went into halftime with a small lead.

Even after the break we had to wait for strong opportunities, despite Cercle's good intentions. Via Popovic, Denkey and substitute Ghobo, the Groen-Zwart came close to Antwerp's goal several times, but their attempts lacked a cutting edge. The visitors had the game under control without creating many chances of their own. Halfway through the second half, they showed themselves to be efficient again: Alderweireld climbed the highest on a corner delivered by Nainggolan and left Majecki without a chance. The match was thus settled, as the youthful Groen-Zwart had to recognize a superior, mature and clinical Antwerp side. Cercle would threaten one more time via Ghobo, but his attempt lacked the power to beat Butez.

Cercle: Majecki, Decostere, Popovic, Marcelin (Ravych 46'), Torres (Miangue 26'), Da Silva, Van Der Bruggen (Francis 46'), Deman (Ghobo 56'), Hotic, Ueda (Wilke 85') and Thinkey.

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Goals: Janssen 0-1 (6', assist Ekkelenkamp), Alderweireld (68', assist Nainggolan).

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