It remains all or nothing for Cercle. Green and Black have not drawn a single time this season and OHL was unable to change that after three Bruges defeats in a row: the score was 3-2. Kévin Denkey was the hero of the day with a hat trick. The Togolese is currently also the top scorer in the Jupiler Pro League with eight goals. Cercle jumps over Antwerp and Genk to fifth place
What do you do as a trainer if you have had nothing but success for a year and suddenly lose three times in a row? “Certainly not changing our principles,” coach Miron Muslic made clear before the start of Cercle-OHL. Still, he made a few decisions. After the defeat at Kortrijk, Daland, De Wilde and Semedo disappeared to the bench. Utkus, Van der Bruggen and Minda were allowed to start. Muslic placed Ravych on the left in the three-man defense and played Minda on the same side as a winger. In midfield he opted for an inverted triangle with Van der Bruggen at the point and the Lopes-Gboho duo on the other sides. A good move because Ravych was able to immediately advance and Denkey scored the 1-0. Not even three minutes gone and a dream start for Cercle. The fans already counted themselves rich in green-black goals, but OHL thought differently. “Shlomo is really ready for it now,” said Marc Brys before kick-off and the oldest trainer in the Jupiler Pro League was right. Siquet hit a cross with his head barely 1 minute after the opening goal and debutant Shlomo headed in Youssef Maziz’s corner.
Not even five minutes gone and already two goals. Anyone who saw Leuven take risks at times and even fumble at the back knew that goals were still in the air. Brys is too old to renounce his stubbornness and clearly refused to follow the example of colleagues such as Capaça (RWDM) and De Boeck (Kortrijk) and also to play the long ball against Cercle. Fine, but daring because Cercle prefers nothing and we had to wait for things to go wrong.
It was often shaking, but OHL managed to get through the first half hour without any major injuries. But the visitors still had to rest with a deficit. First Thorsteinsson was hurt. He was replaced by Banzuzi. At the back they made another mistake with a free kick from Siquet. The ball was not cleared sufficiently and in a scrimmage Denkey scored a second time before the goal. And yet Cercle could not rest with a lead. A second corner, this time taken briefly, proved fatal again. Warleson carelessly boxed away Mendyl’s cross and substitute Banzuzi was in the right place to score the 2-2 goal. So there was top-shelf bungling on both sides and that’s why the opportunities kept coming. Prévot was just able to catch Minda’s attempt and Lopes’ shot went wide.
Denkey strikes again
2-2 halfway through, after a sloppy but quite pleasant first half. The second started in fits and starts because Nsingi needed care for a long time. At OHL they thought it was time to continue the messing around at the back after five minutes. Gboho was able to take advantage but his attempt was blocked. The people of Leuven were also very fortunate that Minda’s ball went just wide via the post. That could and should have been the 3-2. Just before the hour, OHL had a brief revival with a few excellent combinations, but Mendyl found Warleson in his way and Maziz’s low shot flew wide.
On the hour Muslic made his first substitution. Minda was played empty and also injured. He was replaced by Nazinho. So Cercle again for the remaining half hour with a real wingback on the left. The home team continued to pose the most danger, constantly helped by the downright sloppy visitors, who continued to try to play neat football. A noble thought, but not if it cannot be implemented down to the last detail. Fortunately for OHL, Cercle’s last ball touch was always just short. Both coaches then made a double substitution twenty minutes before the end, but this mainly took away the momentum and tempo of the match, which was often at a standstill because visiting players needed care. Everything showed that Leuven could live with 1 point. In the final phase, a wall was erected and ultimately the decision was made to omit the risks and play the long game. It resulted in another break from Mendyl, but Warleson parried into a corner. Cercle had not played a single draw this season and that will take at least a few weeks. Standout Kévin Denkey achieved his deserved hat trick and became the reigning top scorer with his eighth goal. In the nine minutes of added time, Brys’ Leuven could not do what Charleroi’s Mazzu could do on Friday evening: score. Cercle immediately leads OHL by six points and provisionally jumps over Antwerp and Genk to fifth place with fifteen points.