DISKERUD LEADS GENT PAST MONS
Starting in his first game for KAA Gent, Mix Diskerud put in a full 90 minutes and collected an assist as his team beat Mons on a chilly Flemish evening by a 2-0 score line.
The strikes came courtesy of Remi Mareval and Jesper Jorgensen.
In the first minute, the third place team in the Jupiler Pro League set out to make a statement and show the Walloons that they would be in for a rough night when Christian Bruls picked up the ball on the left wing, psyched out a pair of defenders and stuck a sweet cross into the six yard box. The ball found the head of Mareval but Frenchman couldn't keep it low enough, thus putting it over the cross bar. This statement of intent was however the highlight of the first half.
Five minutes later Gent's #9, Ilombe Mboyo got off an ambitious strike from the right side of the box but his team would have showed more of a threat if the Congolese-born Belgian decided to pass instead.
In fact the next 15 minutes produced nothing to talk about after that first shot. Gent had more of the ball but having the ball and doing nothing with it is the same as not having the ball!
A few minutes later Diskerud chased down Tim Matthys after the midfielder burst forward and headed towards the Gent area. The process, the American brought down the Belgian and was shown what a yellow card looks like in Belgium. The ensuing free kick was claimed by Sergio Padt between the Buffaloes sticks.
To even things out, referee Jonathan Lardot flashed yellow into the face of Matthys after he was judged to have fouled Padt from behind from after that free kick.
Another chance for the home team took place when Christian Bruls used his dribbling skills to get by Nicolas Timmermans and Matthys, then got himself into the danger zone on the left side. The angle of his shot however was so tight that Olivier Werner had no problem scooping it up at the near post.
The Gent attempts continued. From a 25th minute free kick at the 25 minute mark, Bruls delivery found Mareval just outside the six yard box. The 28 year old defender could not generate enough power however and could only ripple the netting from the outside.
Playing perhaps a bit nervously due to recent results and the fact that they were missing some key players, Gent continued to create the odd chance but could not really force Werner into making any kind of notable save.
A Zlatan Ljubijankic haf-hour attempt went astray, followed a minute later by a chance for their American midfielder who collected a free kick rebound only to have his shot smothered by Ebrahima Sawaneh.
At the other end the Dragons won a free kick that was taken by Pieterjaqn Monteyne from just outside the box. The awkwardness of the bounce fooled Padt who was forced into a far post save.
In fact after the following free kick that came to nothing, Mons did get a bit more possession in the danger zone and moved the ball around calmly and with precision. The end result was a Matthys curling shot that the former Jong Ajax keeper had to be on his toes for in order to make the save.
Diskerud sent Bruls forward with a crisp pass but the young man from the Belgian Ardennes was brought down by a pair of "Montois" for a free kick that was delivered to Ljubuijankic, but the Slovenian fluffs it and another chance goes wanting.
As the first half fizzled out, the scoreboard showed that 10,948 fans showed up for the game, this game that could desperately use a goal.
Five minutes after the intermission Gent's half-hearted domination of the game and the ball continued as Diskerud fed Bruls with a head and the Belgian feebly shot from 22 yards out. In reality, it shouldn't have even been considered a shot but it did reach Werner.
The ball soon returns to the Flemish and Bruls ends up with the ball in the box, trying to do the Cristiano Ronaldo dance around a trio of Dragons. He goes down in the box and looks sympathetically to the referee for a penalty, but like most of the night Mr. Lardot got it wrong and Mons were given a gift.
But this only fired up the crowd as they became louder and the Buffaloes started a stampede, constantly attacking Werner and his back four. In those first ten minutes of the second half the visitors barely touched the ball. Bragging the league's top scorer in Jeremy Perbet is fine but if you cannot get the ball to him, he may as well have been the league's worst goal-getter.
The breakthrough was finally made on the hour mark with a little help from Diskerud. The American picked out Mboyo at the top left of the box and the Belgian whacked it with gusto. The shot deflected off defender Jeremy Sapina, changed direction and beat Warner inside the far post.
Gent finally put that goal on the scoreboard and the Norwegian-born American international picked up his first assist for his new team.
The visitors almost leveled things up three minutes later when Perbet finally got a bit of service in the box. Matthys found him on the 6 yard box but the Frenchman couldn't get enough on the ball as Padt was able to make the save that in reality should have been a goal.
Diskerud went for his second assist on the night when he played a long ball to Mareval, who beat Werner to the ball as the keeper came out of his area but being pushed wide, by the time he could cut inwards, Mons had crowded their box with defenders.
The visitors did get to see a bit more of the ball as time went by and minutes after the goal Sawaneh broke forward and had it all to do on his own due to a lack of support. The Gambian, who has six caps for his country, managed to impress with his dribbling skills but lets loose from 20 yards and sends the ball into the cheap seats.
Gent almost doubled the score when in the 81st minute Monteyne played a poor back pass to Werner that almosted ended up in the bacfk of the net when the on-rushing Bruls got a foot to it and deflected just wide of the post.
With five minutes until full time, it was obvious that Perbet wasn't in form on the night when he had a fine chance from close range after a pass from Mael Lepicier. His shot cleared the crossbar by a quarter mile.
Yet the Walloons kept pressing for the equalizer and were causing a few problems for the back four, which became all too apparent when Matthey whipped the ball across the box to an open Aliou Dia, who came on as a second half substitute. The Frenchman's shot just cleared the post as the crowd let out a sigh of relief in unison.
In stoppage time Gent stuck the fork in the Dragons and they were done as the men in red just watched when Mario Baric picked out Jesper Jorgensen who was in all kinds of space on the right flank. The Dane put his head down, charged goal-ward and fired past the shocked Werner, rippling the netting from the inside far post. Game over!
A very happy Diskerud spoke to YA after the game.
"The first half was tough," the American said. "We didn't play good at all and it seems that the spectators thought the same thing (by their reactions)."
"In the second half we came out and, I think we finished strong.
He went on to comment about the Gent formation of playing a 4-3-3.
"It is different for me (playing this formation). But I felt that in the second half that I played better though."
The three points have ensured that Gent will finish in the league's top six with just three games left before the play-offs start.
The 21-year-old will miss out however when Gent heads to Mechelen next week as he'll be with Coach Caleb Porter and the U-23 team back in the United States.