MICHAEL ADUBATO - Monday, November 30, 2020
Anderlecht vs Standard Liege
Eerste Klasse - Sunday November 29, 2020
The biggest rivalry in Belgum's Jupiler Pro League took place over the weekend as Matt Miazga and Anderlecht could only settle for a point in their scoreless tie with Standard Liege.
Sunday afternoon in the western part of Brussels, Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht welcomed Royal Standard de Liege to Lotto Park for this clash that is known as the Belgian Classic. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to that billing as the league's most successful team has fallen from grace over recent years while the darling of Wallonia, Standard haven't touched a trophy themselves since their 2018 Belgian Cup victory. Les Mauves and Les Rouches played to an unexciting no-score draw in front of an empty stadium.
Chelsea loanee, Matt Miazga put in a very good performance, commanding the back line with his central defending partner Hannes Delcroix as they help shot-stopper Timon Wellenreuther keep a clean sheet as he faced five shots on target from Standard Liege. Arnaud Bodart, in the opponents' goal, had a very quiet night in terms of facing shots on goal. Anderlecht only managed one.
The first strike of the game came after only three minutes as Albert Lokonga pulled the trigger from long range and completely missed the target. A minute later the hosts could have gone ahead if only there was someone in the box when Mustapha Bundu put in a cross from the right side that Bodart grabbed but dropped. It would have been an easy tap in for any man in purple who would have been adventurous and gotten into the six-yard box.
Standard won a couple corners minutes later when a short one was a half threat but Paul Mukairu put it behind for another. This one ended up at the foot of Merveille Bope but the Congolese midfielder's shot ended up nowhere near the goal.
Fifteen minutes in les Rouches, who had more first-half possession, moved the ball around the perimeter of the Anderlecht box. A through ball into the box was cleared by Miazga but it ended up with Maxime Lestienne who shot from 22 yards out; a shot hard and true, but straight down the middle to Wellenreuther, who easily scooped it up.
An attack up the right-wing five minutes later saw Bundu's cross put behind by Konstantinos Laifis for a corner. It's headed away but only to Amir Murillo who decides to shoot from 20 yards out into a congested box. The Panamanian international's effort cleared the crowd as he attempted to dip it into the goal but it ended up over the top.
Anderlecht settled down a bit and put some tidy passes around the edge of Standard's box with Irishman Joshua Cullen, Michel Vlap and Bundu passing and looking for a way to the goal but one pass too many was cut out by the red wall and booted down the field and on the break, Lestienne and Nicolas Gavory charged up the left-wing but when the cross was put in for Michel Balikwisha, it was turned away for a corner. This corner turned into another corner that Gavory took and the New Jersey defender cleared with his head. A counter-attack was now on with Mukairu charging up the right channel at full speed, outpacing his marker. The Nigerian never looked up and placed the ball right in the middle of the box, inviting a teammate to have a goal. With no support and nobody in the box but the keeper, Bodart casually scooped it up.
Lacking creativity from both ends, instead tackles flew in as the groans echoed around the empty stadium, as players picked themselves up off the ground. Thus the first half ended not with a bang but a whimper as both sets of players made their way to the tunnel.
A few minutes into the second half, Nicolas Raskin charged up the right side and picked out Samuel Bastien a couple of yards outside the 18-yard box. With one touch he stabs it toward the goal but not very well. Another ball in the box was also harmless and claimed by the German keeper.
Soon afterwards Anderlecht was celebrating when a long ball forward by Murillo found both Lukas Nmecha and Vlap flying into the box. The Manchester City loanee left it for Vlap who struck it into the back of the net. The linesman's flag immediately went up and VAR supported his decision. No goal.
After another Miazga clearance, Standard came forward again with Fai Collins who was 10 yards out but wide right, struck the ball that looked more like a cross than a shot but since nobody was there, it turned out to be neither. It ended up sailing wide over the far post.
The Walloon team started getting better in the attacking third but still cannot find the breakthrough. Gavory got off a screamer of a shot from outside the top of the box that looked like a hand burner but the German held onto it.
It was after the hour mark where Anderlecht looked threatening again. Mukairu got off a couple of attempts that were blocked before Nmecha got the last shot that the keeper held onto.
As the game was coming to a conclusion, with ten or so minutes left, the hosts went looking for a winner but although the passing was clean and crisp, they just ran out of ideas in the final third. As Standard nicked the ball back, Collins for some reason decided to shoot from almost half the length of the field, showing how desperate they were to try anything that would show a result.
In stoppage time les Rouches had the last chance however when a Bastien back heel found sub Duje Cop who shot from 18 yards out. Although it was a good shot and on target, the keeper wasn't troubled. And this is how it ended, lots of huffing and puffing but no goals to write home about.
Due to COVID restrictions, there is no longer a mixed zone after Belgian Pro League games, so YA was unable to get Matt Miazga's take on the game.
The solitary point, after losing to Beerschot last week, leaves Vincent Kompany's team in seventh place on 22 points. On Friday night they'll hope to right the purple ship when they travel to take on Zulte-Waregem.