KLJESTAN, ANDERLECHT DESTROY MONS
Unable to qualify for the Europa League in midweek, Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht took their frustrations out on Mons by beating the Walloonians as Dieumerci Mbokani registered a hat trick.
The Mons Dragons kicked off and right from there, an errant pass was pounced upon by Massimo Bruno. The youngster bolted forward and got off his shot just outside the 18 yard box, and although the effort went wide, this was a warning of the night to follow.
Four minutes after the first shot was fired, this second one rippled the back of the net and lit up the scoreboard before all the fans were settled into their seats. Dennis Praet picked out Kljestan and the American looked up, spotted Mbokani and slid the ball across the box to him for a very easy tap-in.
Mons settled down after the initial shock and for the next 15 minutes shared possession of the ball although they never got close to threatening Silvio Proto's goal.
Ronald Vargas, who had been absent from the Anderlecht lineup latched onto the ball and charged up the middle of the field but before he could pull the trigger, Pieterjan Monteyne showed up and snuffed out any possibility of danger.
A half hour into the game Mons had already run out of ideas with les Mauves dominating possession.
Mustapha Jarju was on the ball and as he advanced Praet tackled him from behind. Referee Wim Smet, realizing that Anderlecht was from Flanders like himself, only awarded a free kick and left both his yellow and red card in his pocket.
Smet wasn't as kind to Nicolas Timmermans when the Mons defender tripped up Mbokani as he chased a ball heading towards Cederic Berthelin's goal. The Belgian defender was shown yellow and Lucas Biglia delivered the free kick into the box but the keeper got there a fraction of a second before Kljestan midfielder.
In the 37th minute, the visitors should have doubled their lead when young Bruno fired into the back of the net, however the linesman held up his flag and the goal was incorrectly disallowed.
Two minutes later les Mauves did just that as Mbokani bagged his second of the night. Bruno provided the pass and the former Monaco man sidestepped Timmermans and fired into the inside ceiling of the netting.
Mons tried to respond a minute later, but when Arnor Angeli's free kick from almost 30 yars out found Jarju's head, the Gambian international sent it mere inches over the crossbar.
The hosts came out a bit more aggressively in the second half and had a 48th minute chance when Angeli picked out Daan van Gijseghem. The Belgian's shot however was deflected by Cheikhou Kouyate, which made it an easy save for Proto.
Five minutes later was Anderlecht's turn again as Mbokani and captain Biglia played some give and go but the Argentinean's shot woefully flew but high over the crossbar and into the cheap seats.
In the 58th, Bram Nuytinck saved Proto from a bit of embarrassment when Jeremy Perbet fed the ball into the box to Matumona Zola but Mons' Congolese's shot was cleared off the line from the flying Dutchman.
Mbokani's hat trick could have come a bit earlier than it did and that would have been in the 70th minute but this time he hit the post and the deflection fell to the Montois.
A minute later however, the hat trick didn't come but Anderlecht's third goal did, with Mbokani playing provider this time. Kanu graciously accepted the pass, turned his defender and clipped the ball over Berthelin.
Mons thought that had pulled one back a few minutes later but after Jarju put the ball into the back of the net the linesman flag rightly went up. This was followed by the home team winning a corner kick and ending up unlucky yet again when Timmermans headed over the bar.
Seventy eight minutes in and Mbokani and Berthelin were rolling around on the ground after the duo collided. The Congolese tried to sidestep the goalkeeper but couldn't get around the big Frenchman and was brought down hard. As the Dragon's shot stopper made it back to his feet, Smet showed him a red card.
Coach Enzo Scifo had already used all of his substitutes, so Berthelin handed Jarju his keeper's shirt. The striker's first action as the new shot stopper was to save Guillaume Gillet's kick from the penalty spot. He didn't and with ten minutes left on the clock the scoreboard showed a 4-0 score to the visitors.
The Congolese's hat trick did eventually come and that was with just three minutes left until stoppage time with the assist provided by substitute Kanu.
"We started the game very well so we made it easy for ourselves," Kljestan told Yanks Abroad following the contest. "Mons is not a bad team but we're playing at a very high level right now. Unfortunately for them the goalkeeper took a red card so we were able to put a few more goals in before the end of the game. Overall though, I think we played very well."
The disappointment of leaving the Champions League and not making it into the Europa League obviously had no negative effects on the performance of the entire team.
"Even though we're out of Europe, I think we had a positive feeling about our performances in the Champions League," Kljestan continued. "We took that confidence into tonight. We scored an early goal and it kept flowing and we played good so- it's a nice way to get over Europe and stay focused on Belgium."
Next weekend Kljestan and Anderlecht look to maintain their six-point lead over Zulte-Waregem when they host Oud-Heverlee Leuven at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.