One half was enough for Union to count out AA Gent in the quarter finals of the cup. Nilsson headed in the 1-0 after barely three minutes, after forty minutes it was 3-0. Just like in the competition, Union had no problem with AA Gent, it was twice as heavy: 4-0. Lazare scored again, this time even twice, again Ngadeu turned red, again the team from Brussels turned out to be better in all areas. Was this the transfer from cup holder to the heir to the throne?
What a unique season Union writes again. Group winner in the Europa League and therefore in the eighth finals. First pursuer of leader Genk. And now also in the semi-finals of the Croky Cup. The only Belgian team still active on three fronts. And given their form, a contender to take his third cup in history, the first since 1914 (!). Imagine. Let’s wait and see what the draw gives on Friday afternoon, but the arrival of Antwerp on Sunday could be the final avant la lettre.
And AA Gent? They now have to hope for a European spot through the play-offs, in the Conference League again, if necessary through those great Europe play-offs. But above all, the cup holder has to reinvent itself. Toothless in duels, sloppy on the ball, clumsy in the front: Union never had to fear. Even without a slightly injured Vanzeir, who should be fit again on Sunday.
USG did it like Antwerp the day before: immediately score and put the opponent with their back against the wall. It took less than three minutes before Nilsson had headed a corner against the nets: 1-0. Okumu was once again too easily fooled.
AA Gent entered with five other names compared to the defeat at Antwerp. Torunarigha was declared injured in advance, was then announced in the starting line-up, but finally had to drop out after the warm-up. More surprising was the choice for the striker duo Depoitre-Fofana. Those changes didn’t bring much improvement. Only after a quarter of an hour, when Union kept the pressure off, did Ghent have a chance. Samoise’s cross may not have been hard enough for Depoitre. Union goalkeeper Moris had no problem with his header. Gent came into the game for a moment, but the annoyance about the deepest striker grew on the sidelines. Because Depoitre fought with the ball too often. Vanhaezebrouck waved, Vanhaezebrouck blew. Especially when his striker kicked loosely next to the ball on an excellent switch via Fofana and Nurio.
And then the Ghent defense was once again put in its shirt by Union, which pushed through more strongly from the sidelines. Boniface put aside, where Lazare had been left alone by Hong: 2-0, simple. When Kums lost the ball before the break and Ngadeu made his tackle, Boniface was only allowed to approach Nardi: 3-0. Lazare even scored the 4-0 in the ultimate slot.
Vanhaezebrouck had already sat down for a while, in the impotent realization that this Union has everything he dreams of. Power, athleticism, willingness to run, but also football ingenuity and efficiency. Adingra who had to get off injured, groping for the hip? No problem, Lapoussin joins in and also plays around on the left side. And Ghent, which has five thirty-somethings in the base, four of which are at the end of their contract. Depoitre, who was allowed to sign for two years last season, did not advertise if the board will have to think about the future of Odjidja, Ngadeu, Godeau and Kums.
Not that Vanhaezebrouck gave up completely. Odjidja, Fofana and Depoitre stayed in the dressing room, De Sart, Salah and Cuypers had to try and create a miracle. But their balance against Ghent could reassure the people of Brussels. In three matches since the return to the first division, they won twice, played 0-0 once. Ghent has not scored once in three matches. Nurio came in shortly after the break, but Moris saved. The second half turned out to be a measure for nothing, especially when Ngadeu – just like in the league match – was ruled out with a second yellow card. Well, the league position does not lie: both teams are in their place. If the Buffalos thought otherwise, Union put them in their place. Ghent orphaned, Union celebrates.
Union: Moris, Machida, Burgess, Kandouss, Adingra (12′ Lapoussin), Lynen, Teuma (76′ El Azzouzi), Lazare, Nieuwkoop (66′ Nieuwkoop), Nilsson (66′ Puertas), Boniface (66′ Eckert)
AA Gent: Nardi, Okumu, Ngadeu, Godeau, Samoise, Odjidja (46′ De Sart), Kums (82′ Marreh), Nurio Fortuna, Hong (73′ Castro-Montes), Fofana (46′ Salah), Depoitre (46 Cuypers)
Goals: 3′ Nilsson (1-0), 33′ Lazare (2-0), 40′ Boniface (3-0), 90+2′ Lazare (4-0)
Gele kaarten: 41′ Ngadeu, 65′ Ngadeu
Rode kaarten: 65′ Ngadeu
Referee: Jonathan Lardot