MICHAEL ADUBATO - Monday, July 29, 2019
The Belgian Pro League got underway this past weekend and a couple of Americans saw action for their respective clubs. Brendan Hines-Ike featured for KV Kortrijk and Ethan Horvath for Club Brugge.
Genk 2 - 1 Kortrijk
The first game of the brand new Belgian top flight season kicked off on Friday night when Kortrijk travelled across the country to take on the Belgian champions, who are Genk.
Hines-Ike took up his usual defensive position and went the full 90 minutes in a losing effort as the visitors lead at half time was lost after the intermission and so were any points they had hoped to take home with them.
Just 14 minutes into the game the visitors were passing the ball around in the final third when Julien De Sart decided to pull the trigger from 25 yards out. The ball was hit hard and true and swirled around the fingertips of Australia's #1 Danny Vuković, dipping just below the crossbar to light up the scoreboard, giving the former Derby County midfielder the league's first game of the new campaign.
With a scramble in a crowded Kortrijk box, Mbwana Ally Samatta's header was blocked and the rebound fell right in front of their new Swedish signing Benjamin Nygren, who shot it in from a few yards, thus levelling the game at a goal apiece.
The game winner was scored by another of Genk's new signings, Turkish born Romanian international, Ianis Hagi. The Japanese attacker, Junya Ito was played into the box and collected the pass superbly before finding his new team mate who had no problem beating a couple of KVK defenders and the keeper.
The ball found the back of the net in the 76th minute, just two minutes after the son of Gheorghe Hagi (considered to be one of the best players of his generation) came onto the field.
Although Hines-Ike and his Kerels came up short, they'll be at it again on Saturday evening at home when they welcome Sporting Charleroi to the Guldensporen Stadion.
Waasland-Beveren 1 - 3 Club Brugge
Ethan Horvath was between the posts for Club Brugge as they headed to Beveren to take on W-B at Freethiel Stadion on Saturday afternoon. They came away with all the points thanks to a trio of goals with the first being a late first half penalty followed by two on the other side of the intermission.
Although the young American keeper didn't keep a clean sheet, its hard to blame a goalkeeper for not saving when he happens to be facing a penalty. On the attack, Xian Emmers swung a cross into the box from the left flank. Well, he tried to send it in but Club's midfielder Mats Rits looked to have gotten a hand to the ball to deflect it to Horvath. The referee consulted VAR and sure enough, it had been handled. The shotstopper from Colorado was sent the wrong way by Francesco Forte, who scored his ninth goal in Belgiuim over three seasons.
Poetically, Club got back on terms in first half stoppage time with a penalty of their own. Again it was a defensive handball but this time the referee waved it off before deciding to consult the VAR. Cool as a cucumber, Hans Vanaken shot the ball low and right down the middle as Beveren's keeper went left.
It wasn't long after the break that the visitors took the lead. Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis came into the box from the right with the ball at his feet and slid a pass into the D for Vanaken but this time Lucas Pirard guessed the right way and made the save. The only thing that he forgot to do was to hang onto the ball. When David Chidozie Okereke saw that he didn't the Nigerian pounced and scored from just inside the six yard box.
The game was put to bed in the 71th minute when Ruud Vormer sent in his corner kick to the near post and Vanaken was on hand to nod it home.
Having started the season with all the points on the road, Club will be at home on Friday night when they welcome Sint Truiden to the Venice of the North.
A revamped Anderlecht was without Kenny Saief for their opener but had two former Premier League champions on the field in Vincent Kompany and Samir Nasri but little improvement was shown over last season as the Brussels boys lost at home to KV Oostende. Next week however they'll head to Mouscron for a Sunday matinee where they hope to get their first points of the season.
Isaiah Young and First Division B team Royale Union Saint-Gilloise don't open their season until this coming weekend. The Brussels side will get underway on Sunday when they host KSV Roeselare.