Anderlecht has collapsed. The Purple & White played a dramatic match against AZ, but after a 2-0 defeat they still managed to score penalties. That’s where it went wrong. A unique opportunity to reach a European semi-final for the first time since 1990. This is such a sledgehammer and on Sunday the story may also end in the competition. The season is over.
Well thanks, Anderlecht. I am defending the team in this newspaper against the arrogant Dutch analysts who belittled you after the 2-0 win in Brussels. I almost didn’t dare enter the Afas stadium and after 12 minutes and 50 seconds I had to agree with them. What the hell was that? It’s not because Brian Riemer said before the match “We’re going to play like it’s still 0-0” that you actually had to put the boards back in balance. That was in a manner of speaking, wasn’t it. To keep you alert in this second leg.
The U9 of VK Liedekerke
Because you were anything but: alert. I always go to watch my son at the U9 of VK Liedekerke on Saturday morning. Those guys are sometimes still in dreamland at the kick-off and are sometimes swept off the mat. Well, that’s how it was in Alkmaar too. After 4 minutes, Murillo hit Kerkez’s foot on the edge of the backline: penalty and bingo. After 12 minutes, the Panamanian lifted the offside, after which Moussa N’Diaye was rushed past in his back. Vangelis Pavlidis then made his second of the evening. The referee sometimes whistled easily, but the Dutch observers crowed with pleasure.
Anderlecht was really nowhere. The flanks Murillo and N’Diaye did not give home, Ashimeru and Diawara gave way under the pressure, while Lior Refaelov went too fast this time. AZ had looked very closely at RC Genk and rolled up the left flank again and again. The people from Brussels seemed completely unaware that they had a unique chance at a European semi-final and could not keep up with the ball for five seconds. Fortunately, the Alkmaarders then spilled the chances and lost goal scorer Pavlidis with an injury. Oof.
The lamentable game even caused Marc Coucke to get involved in the heated debates on Twitter. Last season, the chairman once tweeted How to destroy the season in one week while Anderlecht then failed in Play-off 1. The businessman could have done the same now, but kept it more constructive. Clear your head and play football. A semi-final is at stake.
If the trainer shakes them up, the football players of the Liedekerkse U9 often act better. Euh, Anderlecht played a little less football after the break than Premiers, but at most they remained cadets compared to the boys from AZ. In Spain, this team experienced the miracle of Villarreal and now it would take another miracle to wake up from this nightmare. Refaelov was put out of his misery after more than an hour, N’Diaye was allowed to continue to muddle on and Murillo was out with a muscle tear.
Murillo end of season?
The season may be over for the Panamanian. Although that is of course relative. The story in the Jupiler Pro League may end on Sunday. In 95 minutes, Anderlecht created two chances – Slimani and N’Diaye could not outwit the keeper – but Riemer’s team dragged itself into extra time with more luck than skill. AZ even hit the post hard. How lucky can you be?
The mental advantage was clear to the Dutch. In the stands we were discussing how many RSCA players we should blow, because with this football the Purple & White would really make a bad figure in the semi-final. Only Vertonghen and Sardella were at the level, but the European football gods are very well disposed to the people of Brussels. An AZ goal was still disallowed, after which RSCA won penalty kicks for the third time in this campaign.
No history written
That ended well against Young Boys Bern and Ludogorets, but it remains a lottery. This time it turned out badly for the Belgians. Jan Vertonghen and Killian Sardella missed their eleven meters and Bart Verbruggen couldn’t save the furniture. Over and out.
So the European story ends here. Anderlecht simply didn’t deserve to push through and reach that first European semi-final since 1990. It failed to write history and that’s a shame after such a unique opportunity. This will be such a huge blow that even the courage for Sunday in the competition can sink completely. Will the team from Brussels also mess up against KV Mechelen and will their season be over? Then they can take early leave. Admittedly, the Dutch analysts were right.