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Cercle close a fine season with a point in Antwerp

In a game in which little was at stake for either team, the home team would take the lead just after the break. After Balikwisha's opening goal, Cercle faltered for fifteen minutes, but didn't crack. Thanks to Dino Hotic's delivery and Kevin Denkey's opportunism, that resilience would result in another point; Cercle thus end the season in tenth place with 45 points.

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.

The break arrived with the teams level, but that score wasn’t long for this world after the break. After a quick switch of play from the home team, Benson's cross ended up coming to Frey, who laid the ball on perfectly for Balikwisha. From close range, he left Warleson no chance. A few minutes later our Brazilian goalkeeper then stopped Myoshi with a nice save to prevent it being 2-0 quickly. Antwerp pushed on and it was only thanks to some clever play that Cercle remained within striking distance.

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.


Lineups:
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

The last home game of the 2021-2022 season was completely overshadowed by a farewell for former Cercle goalkeeper Miguel Van Damme, in a match in which Cercle and KAA Gent shared the points. After early goals from Tissoudali and Somers, it was Depoitre who ensured that the visitors went into halftime with a lead. Ten minutes from time, Somers would again level the score. In match’s closing stages, both teams came close to scoring, but neither team could take all three points.

Pre-match, the players and supporters said goodbye to Miguel Van Damme with a mocing tribute. Once the match had started, it didn't take long for things to open up. After barely two minutes, Tissoudali found some space centrally, after which the opponents’ in-form man gave goalkeeper Warleson no chance. Cercle reacted immediately; at a corner, Somers was able to level the score two minutes later. The visitors, who needed all the points in their battle for the playoffs, kept attacking and had two more good chances in the opening minutes as Warleson had to distinguish himself on attempts by Castro-Montes and Vadis. KAA Gent were trying to take control of the game and were rewarded for it on the half hour when Depoitre turned home a sharp cross from Tissoudali. The Groen-Zwart reaction was immediate, but Cercle did not get further than a few blocked attempts and corner kicks.

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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