Cercle closed the opening matchday of the 2022-2023 season with a trip to promoted side Westerlo. De Kemphanen have a lot of experience at home and could also count on an enthusiastic home crowd. Popovic received his second yellow card after half an hour and just before half-time, Daci opened the score for the hosts. It was an ideal scenario, and our Groen-Zwart had to chase the match after the break. The best chances came for the home team, who were making good use of the extra space. Just before full time, Vetokele would double the lead, making 2-0 the final score.
The Groen-Zwart stumble at 't Kuipje (2-0)
Dominik Thalhammer handed a start to new Cercle striker Ayase Ueda to the start of the season, while at the back Warleson started in goal after the departure of Thomas Didillon. Overall, though, the Groen-Zwart eleven consisted of names that would be familiar from last season.
The second division champion also kicked off with a well-oiled team, as only their experienced goalkeeper Bolat was a new face; all of the outfield players had played for the Kemphanen last year.
Westerlo started the game well, spurred on by their many home fans. Dierckx and Vaesen tested Warleson with the first shots on target, but he was up to the task. Just before halfway through the 1st half, Popovic lunged into a duel on the halfway line. He immediately got his first yellow, and then, on the half hour, the Serb received his second after a hard tackle on Van Eenoo.
Thus, Cercle had to play with ten men for more than an hour. Westerlo then went full on in attack and three minutes before half-time, Daci was able to score on a pass from Jordanov. Warleson dove for the shot, but the Turkish striker aimed the ball high into the goal.
Cercle had to change things up after the break and played with more forward intent. However, this ensured that Westerlo was given more space. An industrious Van den Keybus in particular made good use of this, but he was unable to finish his chances and Warleson also showed himself to be very sharp in goal. Foster, who had just come on, was able to beat the Brazilian goalkeeper, but did so from an offside position.
And so it was exciting until the very end. The best chance for Cercle came for substitute Deman, but he after getting the ball from Vanhoutte his shot was well over Bolat's goal. In the last minute of added time, two substitutes would decide the match. Bernat saw Vetokele in behind the defense and placed the ball perfectly onto the foot of the ex-Cercle striker who tapped in with a soft touch.
Next week, our Groen-Zwart will host Anderlecht as we look for a first victory of the 2022-2023 season.
Westerlo: Bolat, Perdichizzi (Tagir 88'), Van Eenoo, De Cuyper, Vaesen (Foster 64'), Daci (Vetokele 88'), Seigers, Jordanov, Neustaedter, Van den Keybus and Dierckx (Bernat 81')
Cercle: Warleson, Miangue (Torres 83'), Decostere, Daland, Popovic, Da Silva Lopes, Van der Bruggen (Vanhoutte 60'), Hotic, Ueda, Somers (Deman 60) and Denkey (Utkus 34')