GAMES Anderlecht won with 0-1 at KV Mechelen. It didn't play great and after half time, purple-white failed to extend the lead. Mechelen could hardly threaten though. Anderlecht does a good job in the battle for the top 4.
Anderlecht started weak against a battered Mechelen (without Schoofs and with Storm on the bench), but Van Crombrugge was alert to defuse a short back pass from Magallan. Mechelen had most of the ball possession, but apart from a deflection by Cuypers they were unable to create any chances. After ten minutes Thoelen had to get out of his goal as well after a short back-pass. Collectively Anderlecht didn't seem to be in the game. At the back, a lot of pointless playing around took place, regularly not without risk.
After twenty points, Peyre put a foot in front of an attempt by Raman, but moments later Anderlecht finished off its only chance before half-time. Zirkzee cut himself free and gave Anderlecht the lead. Shortly before the half hour mark, Peyre pulled Raman in the penalty area, but Boterberg saw no harm in it. Strangely enough, there was no sign of VAR intervention. Kompany rightly made himself angry, but got the yellow card under his nose. Anderlecht's better period was soon over, but Mechelen wasn't able to threaten.
Anderlecht got a couple of half chances shortly after half time. There was a blocked shot by Gomez and then Cullen cleverly captured the ball, but Raman decided to center on Thoelen. Just before the hour also Zirkzee had a good chance, but from position he decided to weak and to central. Mechelen rarely created any concrete danger, but after poor execution by Magallan a shot whizzed just wide. The Mechelen side's most dangerous attempt of the match.
There were still chances for the purple and white. Magallan headed a corner kick hard against the bar, while another attack was played out very sloppily. With twenty minutes to go, Anderlecht absolutely had to avoid the scenario of last week. Purple and white kept missing chances. The substitute Amuzu saw a lot of space with Zirkzee, but he decided to play too casually.
Five minutes before time Murillo picked up a somewhat expected yellow card which means he is suspended. No big deal, after all the Panamanian is in America for a while for World Cup qualifying matches. Olsson will have to rest effectively against Cercle though. The Swede also received his fifth yellow card, also for timekeeping. There was nothing else to do. Mechelen was on the back foot for a while and Anderlecht didn't take any risks anymore.
Anderlecht is doing well in the standings after losing several points to their pursuers. Besides, it got enough chances to win big. Anderlecht faces a busy period with a lot of matches. Who and how will the absence of Murillo be compensated? Kompany has not yet found a solution to this problem this season. There is simply no solid backup for Murillo in the selection. When and in what condition will Kouamé return from the Africa Cup? We will find out the answer to the first question on Wednesday in the home game against Cercle Brugge.
Goal(s): 0-1 Zirkzee 23'
KV Mechelen:Thoelen, Bijker, Wouters, Walsh, Hairemans (Storm 72'), Druijf (Shved '62'), Cuypers, Mrabti, Peyre (Kaya 79'), Vanlerberghe, Vinicius Souza
Anderlecht:Van Crombrugge, Murillo, Magallan, Hoedt, Gomez, Cullen, Olsson, Refaelov (Delcroix 82'), Verschaeren (Ashimeru 82'), Zirkzee (Stroeykens 85'), Raman (Amuzu 74')
Yellow: Kompany 28', Shved 69', Vanlerberghe 72', Murillo 84', Souza 88', Olsson 88'
Referee: Jan Boterberg
Stadium: AFAS Stadion
Source: © Internal source