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The Groen-Zwart triumph in the Bruges Derby! (2-0)

Matchday 21 was one played without supporters, something which made for very unfortunate circumstances for the Groen-Zwart as Boxing Day saw them welcome Club Brugge in the Bruges Derby. Cercle showed the best of themselves, though, and it didn't let the visitors get into their game. Early in the second half, Miangue gave Cercle the lead and just before full time, Sousa doubled it on a pass from the outstanding Matondo.

Cercle coach Thalhammer had some work to do for this Bruges Derby. After the away game against league leaders Union, he was missing the suspended pair of Daland and Lopes Da Silva, and the game came too early for a return on the part the injured Utkus. As a result, the defense consisted of Popovic and Sousa, who were flanked by Miangue, replacing Velkovsky. In the midfield, Vanhoutte was in the starting lineup alongside captain Van der Bruggen.

In a good first half it was an enthusiastic Cercle that had the best chances. Deman seemingly had the opening goal at his mercy but Mechele and Sobol kept him from scoring. His fellow striker Somers was also able to get a shot away, but Mignolet would keep things scoreless heading into the break. Club, for their part, were not able to get to grips with the game, even though Didillon had to tip a powerful shot by Vanaken over his goal on a pass from De Ketelaere.

Everything was thus at stake after the break, and it was again the Groen-Zwart who came out of the dressing room eager for the result. Hotic dropped a free kick into the area from the flank, and the ball wasn't cleared, coming to the feet of Miangue, who would open the scoring ten minutes into the second half.

After that Club increased the pressure, but it would find no room move against a well-organized Groen-Zwart defence. Thalhammer's young team were under pressure, but Didillon was able to preserve the lead with a few fine saves. Club had a chance at an equalizer but Vanaken scuffed his shot and Club would gradually ran out of steam.

Cercle Brugge KSV
Cercle Brugge KSV

In the final quarter of an hour, it was Rabbi Matondo's time to shine. The lively Welshman was the freshest man on the pitch and after first Mignolet and the crossbar kept him from scoring, he would set up the match winner. With a wonderful bit of skill, he turned Mechele and Sobol; David Sousa had got forward well and easily ran onto Matondo's pass to finish into an empty net.

With another fine result, our Groen-Zwart enter the winter break with a good feeling, 15 out of 18 points and a derby victory. Bravo Cercle!

Cercle: Didillon, Miangue, Sousa, Popovic, Decostere, Vanhoutte, Van der Bruggen, Hotic, Matondo, Deman (Vitinho 76' ) and Somers

Club: Mignolet, Sobol, Mechele, Hendry, Mata, Rits (Dost 76'), Balanta (Mbamba 62'), Vanaken, Lang, De Ketelaere and Vormer

Cercle Brugge KSV

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Dominik Thalhammer made three changes compared to the match against KAA Gent: Vitinho took the place of Sousa at left back, Charles Vanhoutte was preferred in midfield over Da Silva Lopes and Kévin Denkey started in attack against Seck and co. Thibo Somers moved to the right wing as a result, and Olivier Deman took a place on the bench.

The home team started the game best with an attempt by Benson landing in the hands of Warleson and an effort by Seck (from an offside position) crashing off the crossbar. Seck also formed the basis of Cercle's first opportunity with some sloppy play, but Butez anticipated the cross from Dino Hotic well. Moments later, Rabbi Matondo was in a good position, but his through ball to Denkey was just not good enough. The final pass was often lacking for Cercle, and opportunities were scarce for the Groen-Zwart.
The home side were able to put Warleson to work a few times with some long shots, but difficult saves were not among them. Just before the break, he did well in a 1-on-1 with Frey, although the Antwerp striker was also flagged offside on that play.

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Still only one goal behind, everything remained possible and Cercle cautiously grew into the game in the last part of the match. The warning shot came from Thibo Somers, whose attempt was just wide, and then, after a foul on Denkey, Cercle seemed to have earned a penalty, but the foul happened just outside the box and was therefore correctly corrected by VAR. The free kick that followed was curled slightly past the wall by Dino Hotic, but came off the inside of the post. Fortunately for Cercle, Kévin Denkey was quickest to the rebound and he blasted the equaliser into the goal.

The home team wanted all three points, and put pressure on our goal in the match’s final phase. However, the Groen-Zwart defense stood firm and gave little away. Nainggolan came closest to making it 2-1, but Warleson kept the ball from finding the bottom corner. On the counterattack, Cercle were able to threaten a few more times via Matondo, but Rabbi, who was unlucky on the night, did not get further than a shot over the bar. That is how it remained for Cercle, who certainly did not play their best game of the season but did show character to earn a draw in the Bosuil.


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Antwerp: Butez, Bataille, Seck, Dessoleil, Vines, Nainggolan, Yusuf, Myoshi (Samatta 76'), Benson (Gerkens 69'), Balikwisha (Eggestein 87') and Frey

Cercle: Warleson, Decostere, Popovic, Daland, Vitinho (Miangue 54’), Vanhoutte (Da Silva Lopes 54'), Van Der Bruggen, Hotic, Somers (Deman 76'), Denkey and Matondo

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Cercle and Ghent share the points

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After the break, Cercle continued to look for an equaliser, although they had to wait for a good opportunity for some time. Early in the second half, Matondo stole the ball from Roef, but a teammate was unable to link up with our pacy striker. Popovic then headed a free kick just wide. At the other end, we had to watch out for Tissoudali, who struck the post after a good run. The Cercle strikers did not have an easy time against the large and strong defenders of KAA Gent and the tempo soon disappeared from the match, due to injury treatments. Still, the Groen-Zwart didn't give up. With twelve minutes left on the clock, Cercle came very close to the equaliser: on a pass from Matondo, Denkey had a chance but the ball trickled just wide. It was only a stay of execution, though, for Gent, because on the next attack Somers would pull Cercle level again. Hjulsager then received a red card from the visitors, after a reaction to a foul by Da Silva.

Cercle saw its chance and kept attacking, but Matondo and especially Denkey couldn't find the target. Gent also got one more big chance as Samoise struck the bar in the final seconds. This intense match thus ended with the points being shared.

Cercle: Warleson, Decostere, Popovic (Vanhoutte 77'), Daland, Sousa (Vitinho 56'), Da Silva, Van Der Bruggen, Hotic, Deman (Denkey 56'), Matondo and Somers.

KAA Gent: Roef, Okumu, Ngadeu, Torunarigha, Samoise, Kums (Nurio 90+5'), Vadis (Hjulsager 45+2'), De Sart, Castro-Montes, Depoitre (Lemajic 90+5') and Tissoudali.

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The first shots came for Cercle, via Da Silva Lopes and Hannes Van Der Bruggen, but it was the home team that struck early doors, as Kayembe's opening goal (1-0, 7',) involved plenty of bad luck, but there was nothing that could be do against Bayo's shot for the second (2-0, 9').

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After another strong performance against KV Kortrijk, Cercle took three points at home. Early in the first half, the Groen-Zwart were threatening, but were unable to reward themselves with a lead in the first 45 minutes. After the break, that quickly changed when Hotic perfectly slotted home a penalty kick. A little later, an impressive Kévin Denkey decided the game with his fourth goal in five games.

In the absence of the ailing Thalhammer, his assistants De Wulf and Muslic took over his duties on the touchline, and on the pitch, captain Van Der Bruggen came back from suspension. Elsewhere, there were no changes to note in the starting eleven.

The Groen-Zwart quickly took the initiative and that resulted in their threatening via Denkey and Matondo. After a nice dribble, Matondo saw his shot deflected, but it hit the post. Cercle were pushing KVK back into their own half, but a deserved goal did not come. On the half hour Deman also saw his shot deflected narrowly wide.
It wasn't until the end of the first half that the match became a bit more balanced and the visitors were able to create a threat. Palaversa, however, fired his own attempt a few meters wide.

Cercle also started the strongest after the break and soon created a few chances and when Vandendriessche tugged Daland's jersey at a corner, the ref pointed to the spot. Penalty specialist Hotic placed the ball perfectly in the corner to beat Ilic, and a deserved lead was finally on the board. The visitors tried to restore the balance, but soon saw the Groen-Zwart's lead doubled. A ball over the top came to Denkey, who failed to hesitate in slamming home a powerful shot. After this goal, however, the fire disappeared somewhat from the match: Cercle were no longer pushing but would impress in a few flashes. The Guys, on the other hand, failed to trouble Cercle's defense. It was a deserved victory, as Cercle continues to put pressure on the teams ahead of them in the battle for the top 8.

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KV Kortrijk: Ilic, Reynolds (Rougeaux 46'), Sainsbury, Palaversa (Badamosi 62'), Messaoudi, Selemani, Kadri (Jonckheere 78'), Mehssatou, Vandendriessche, Moreno (Mbayo 78') and Radovanovic.

Goals: Hotic (50', 1-0), Denkey (66', 2-0)

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