GAMES Anderlecht still hasn't been able to win this year. Tonight it stranded at 2-2 in Mechelen. Anderlecht started very dominant and scored quickly through Hazard, but Mechelen recovered and Purple-White combined harder. Ten minutes after halftime, they equalized through Antonio. Anderlecht played poorly after halftime, but still took the lead through substitute Vazquez. In the closing stages, Mechelen got a very cheap penalty which made it 2-2. In the added time, Coucke had another fine save to keep Hazard from making it 2-3. A missed opportunity to run out of rivals for Play-Off 1.
Patris and Arnstad switched flanks, putting both of them in odd positions for them. After seven minutes, Anderlecht threatened for a first time, but Dolberg just couldn't finish. On the corner kick that followed, Hazard scored the 0-1 with a low slide into the far corner without too much resistance. Anderlecht combined well with smooth ball circulation. Patris pushed forward, but neither Dolberg nor Leoni could finish.
After twenty minutes, Mechelen got into the game better. Cobbaut's (ex-Anderlecht) equalizer was disallowed because of clear offside. Mechelen waited Purple-White higher and Anderlecht found it harder to find the combination. Stroeykens did get a good opportunity after 25 minutes after Coucke had badly deflected, but he placed just wide of the partially empty goal. On the opposite side, Schmeichel saved an effort by the speedy Antonio. Just before halftime Anderlecht should have doubled the lead after poor play by Cobbaut. Hazard tried it himself, but Dolberg was centrally alone in front of goal.
Anderlecht started the second half in sleep mode and let Mechelen calmly commit. Antonio did after ten minutes after halftime what Anderlecht asked for. He scored the equalizer with a crossed shot from an acute angle after passing Patris too easily. Another avoidable counter-goal that came very easily.
On the hour, Debast had to clear on a breakaway by the home team. Clumsiness at the back of the home team was not punished by Hairemans. After 66 minutes, Anderlecht finally showed something after halftime, but neither Hazard nor Dolberg got free to finish. Anderlecht's play looked like nothing after halftime, yet they climbed back into the lead. Dreyer was able to penetrate far and his cross landed via Mukau in front of Vazquez, who reacted with lightning speed and headed in the goal. Mechelen quickly recovered from the goal and played all or nothing. Schmeichel saved a header at the corner.
In the end, De Creemer suddenly pointed to the spot after Stroeykens let his arm hang after a jump and hit a Mechelen player. You can hardly imagine a cheaper penalty and the VAR was probably in the traffic jam of the peasant protest, because it gave no sign of life. Hairemans was only too happy to open the gift from eleven yards. Hazard still almost became the match winner, but in the last minute Coucke pulled the 2-3 from goal with a very clever save.
Thus Anderlecht loses precious points against a battered Mechelen. The cheap penalty is presumably decisive today, but Anderlecht just doesn't seem to get going in 2024. The absence of some injured players is presumably starting to weigh down anyway. If you reach a normal level, that penalty is no more than a footnote in the record. Riemer talks mostly about being fit by the Play-Offs, but all the points you lose now, you can never pick up again. For now, that doesn't cause too much damage because the direct opponents in the standings are also spilling points (except Union, of course), but this song won't last. Next assignment at home against a weakened Ghent, a team against whom Purple and White have not been able to win for years.
Goal(s):0-1 Hazard 8', 1-1 Antonio 53', 1-2 Vazquez 78', 2-2 Hairemans 89' (PEN)
KV Mechelen:Coucke, Walsh (Bafdili 87'), Cobbaut, Bates, Foulon (Asante 87'), Hairemans, Mrabti, Lauberbach (Van Hecke 90'+1), Mukau, Antonio (Asare 90'+1), Pflücke
Anderlecht:Schmeichel, Patris, Debast, Vertonghen, Arnstad, Leoni (Verschaeren 68'), Rits, Stroeykens, Hazard, Dreyer, Dolberg (Vazquez 74')
Yellow: Stroeykens 39', Walsh 58', Hairemans 90'+2
Referee: Wesli De Cremer
Stadium: AFAS Stadium
Source: © Internal source