Tonight, Anderlecht put aside high flying Cercle Bruges, winning 3-1 at home. Two Van Damme goals and one Boussoufa free kick assured the three points. The victory gave Anderlecht second place assuring European qualification
It was an excellent Mbark Boussoufa who proved decisive in tonight's victory over the season's revelation Cercle Bruges. The Moroccon midfielder delivered the assist for two Jelle Van Damme goals and curled in a free kick. The victory lifts Anderlecht over Cercle Bruges and puts the pressure on Club Bruges, who lost two-nil.
The game against Cercle Bruges meant the return of several ex-Anderlecht men. Oleg Iachtchouck, Besnik Hasi and Cercle coach Glen De Boeck all share an Anderlecht history. The home fans especially gave Iachtchouk a warm welcome. The Ukranian striker played for over ten years for the Brussels club, a career that was marred by unfortunate injuries. De Boeck served as a defender for many years and was assistent coach under Franky Vercauteren for two years. Former Anderlecht-midfielder Hasi is currently rumoured to be next year's assistant to Anderlecht coach Jacobs.
The opening minutes proved to be balanced with chances at both ends of the pitch. A shot by Nicolas Frutos was saved by Cercle goalkeeper Bram Verbiest while Marcin Wasilewski's header went just wide after a corner. At the other side, Iachtchouk came inches short to deflect a Honour Gombani cross into the goal. Cercle then gained control over the game, dictating the play with their trademark swift passing. Kristof Snelders and Gombani saw their efforts just wide, while Davy Schollen made an excellent save to keep Anthony Portier from scoring.
At the half-hour mark Anderlecht shook the visiting defence awake. Guillaume Gillet's shot hit the post, Frutos aimed the rebound on Verbiest. One minute later it was again the Argentinian who went past his marker only to send his effort over the goal. Anderlecht were eagerly pushing on.
It were the visitors, however, who scored the opening goal. Lucas Biglia lost possession in midfield which allowed Snelders to deliver a center. Schollen missed his interception and Tony Sergeant was free to put the ball into the empty goal. Cercle Bruges' advantage proved to be short though. Four minutes later Mbark Boussoufa delivered a free kick which Jelle Van Damme headed past Cercle goalkeeper Verbiest, scoring an important equaliser just before the break.
It was the home team who came out of the dressing room with the most vigour. Their early dominance translated into several opportunities. Gillet and Stanislav Vlcek saw their attempts deflected wide and saved by Verbiest respectively. An excellent Boussoufa free kick left Verbiest fixed to the ground and deservedly put Anderlecht ahead in 65th minute: 2-1. Ariël Jacob's men pushed on and widened the gap merely five minutes later. Boussoufa's corner was headed past Verbiest by Van Damme, the defender's second goal of the evening.
The two-goal advantage meant a blow for the visitors who were forced to replace an injured Verbiest with Rubin Danschotter. Cercle coach De Boeck brought in Obadiah to try to turn the tide but his efforts were in vain. The victory over Cercle was more than deserved for a dominant Anderlecht who strengthen their bid for a Champions League ticket.
Goal(s): 37' Tony Sergeant 0-1, 41' Jelle Van Damme 1-1, 65' Mbark Boussoufa 2-1, 70' Jelle Van Damme 3-1
Anderlecht:Schollen, Wasilewski, Juhasz, De Man, Van Damme, Biglia, Polak, Gillet, Vlcek (60' Chatelle), Boussoufa (83' Legear), Frutos (88' Hassan)
Cercle Bruges:Verbist (74' Rubin Dantschotter), Boi, Portier, Viane, Van Mol (57' Nyoni), Hasi, Serebrennikov, Gombami, Sergeant, Snelders, Iachtchouk (75' Obadiah Tarambwe Moyo)
Yellow: 27' Marcin Wasilewski, 37' Lucas Biglia, 40' Kristof Snelders, 92' Hassan
Stadium: Constant Vanden Stock stadium