No, not even OHL. The giant killer of 1A, still too strong for Club Brugge at home, failed to stop a battered and rejuvenated blue-black. The 18-year-old Ignace Van der Brempt showed himself to the Bruges family. Club is at thirty to thirty and can fully concentrate on the Europa League.
Pace, chances and a series of tough but fair duels. The best game of the 28th match day was played on Monday evening. Both Club Brugge and Oud-Heverlee Leuven missed important players, but went full for the win. There was also a new fresh name. The 18-year-old Ignace Van der Brempt scored his first goal in his second competition start for Club.
Van der Brempt had come in well in the first leg against Dinamo Kiev and was rewarded with a starting place by his coach Rik De Mil. A striking choice. Nabil Dirar was signed in January because club management ruled that the teenager was not ready to serve as a backup for Clinton Mata.
Yesterday Van der Brempt stood in front of Mata and kept David Okereke out of the team. We can gradually classify the Nigerian vertically at Club. He will only get chances because he cost 8 million euros last season and is still the record transfer from blue-black. But not under Rik De Mil. Philippe Clement’s replacement chose young players.
Anyone wondering whether Van der Brempt can attack got the answer after eight minutes. The youngster put Casper De Norre on display with a quick movement. The left back of OHL could have defended better, but it didn’t make the finish any less beautiful. VDB Rafael Romo patted in the far corner.
Writers in Mata’s pocket
OHL coach Marc Brys counted on two ex-Club players to hurt the leader. Thibault Vlietinck and Siebe Schrijvers had to create danger on the flanks. But Schrijvers in particular played a bad game on the left flank. He was in the pocket of Clinton Mata, who was once again the best man on the field.
Vlietinck did better on the other side. He forced some chances with his rushes, but Mousa Tamari – the Jordanian Messi – had once again put on his wrong shoes.
Not only Club Brugge had important absentees – Mats Rits, Hans Vanaken, Noa Lang – OHL also felt the absence of Kristiyan Malinov, the driver and ball conqueror in midfield. Marc Brys sacrificed Kamal Sowah to play man cover on Charles De Ketelaere and the question was whether that was the best choice. Not only because the Leicester mercenary is not a pure six, especially because he was missed as a running man on the counterattack. The dreaded counters of OHL did not come out this time. Xavier Mercier failed to reach top shooter Thomas Henry.
At Club they have known since last Thursday that five corona absentees should not be a problem. The substitutes play with the same grinta and desire to prove themselves. Tahith Chong, who is not eligible to play in Europe, knows that he must use the games in the Belgian league to show his value for Club.
The Dutchman entered OHL’s penalty area shortly before half-time when he was stopped by Romo. The Venezuelan goalkeeper reached the ball by hand, but scooped the Club forward with his feet. Jan Boterberg, who led an excellent game, pointed to the spot without hesitation. Ruud Vormer was allowed to convert the penalty in the absence of Vanaken.
Dost with nuisance?
After the 2-0 it became one mission impossible for the visitors. De Mil could afford the luxury of changing after an hour. Eder Balanta and Bas Dost went to the side, after which with the arrival of Youssouph Badji and Thomas Van den Keybus Club Brugge became even more like Club NXT. Especially for Dost the peace seemed welcome. He seemed to have played with hindrance to his thigh and immediately went to the dressing room after his substitution.
Star Mata took the 3-0 in the end, after interfering with Okereke on Vekemans. And so Club Brugge’s focus quickly turned to the return game against Dinamo Kiev on Thursday. In the competition, the race has long been over. Even if the points for the playoffs are divided by four, the champion is known.
The last point loss dates from December against Ghent. On Sunday, Blauw-Zwart will have the opportunity to take revenge for that defeat.