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A strong Cercle display yields only a point in Genk

Cercle were dominant throughout the match in Limburg, but the result, only a point, seemed an unjust reward for their performance. Somers gave Cercle the lead after a great attack and in the second half the result turning to 0-2 seemed far likelier than the hosts responding, but substitute Bongonda gave Genk what was a very flattering point late in the match.
 
Cercle started the match with two changed, both enforced, compared to last week: the injured pair of Utkus and Corryn were replaced by Lopes Da Silva and Miangue. Cercle also had to do without Yves Vanderhaeghe, who was missing from the bench following a positive test for COVID-19. His assistants, Jimmy De Wulf and Miron Muslic, took over his duties on the touchline.

Cercle started the match with a lot of desire and pressed Genk from the off, closing the hosts down deep in their own half. It took fifteen minutes before this resulted in a first chance, but Vandevoordt was quick off his line to deny Millàn. The home team could only counter that with a shot from Paintsil, before Hannes Van Der Bruggen seemed to give Cercle the lead after 22 minutes. A cross from Vitinho reached Millàn, and his deflected shot fell right at the feet of our captain, who slipped the ball in. Howeever, after three minutes of consulting VAR, they came to the conclusion that Van Der Bruggen was offside by a few millimeters, a very tough decision.

The goal being denied seemed to wake up the home team, as their towering striker Onuachu headed the ball back to Thorstvedt, but Sousa would easily block an effort that lacked power. The biggest chance for the home team would follow moments later, though. Onuachu was again involved, setting up the speedy Paintsil, but Didillon emerged with the ball from the speedy winger.

Cercle quickly took over control of the match and deservedly took the lead after a quick switch of play. Millàn would prove stronger than Toma, as he then played in Hotic before Dino's low cross was tapped home by Thibo Somers. Cercle pushed on and would even force a few corner kicks before half time. Millàn headed one of these corners from close range after a deflection from Miangue, but Vandevoordt pushed the ball onto the post.

Millàn kept looking for a goal as a birthday present to himself and made himself known again in the opening minutes of the second half, as his header seemed heading in at the far post, but Toma was there in time to clear the ball off the line. Moments later, Matondo went down in the box following a challenge by Preciado, but this time VAR remained silent.

A shot by Ito caused some excitement in the home crowd, but Didillon watched the ball flash a meter wide of his goal. After that, the game's only chances seemed to be falling for Cercle for a long time. Vandevoordt did well to deal with a low cross from Lopes Da Silva, and Millàn was unlucky, slipping before he could reach the rebound. Perhaps the best chance to make it 0-2 would fall to Thibo Somers. Dino Hotic's pass was sublime, but Vandevoordt's save from Thibo's effort was just as good. The match now became stretched but Cercle were unable to find a second goal to seal the result.

It was only in the final part of the match that Didillon was tested, on a powerful effort from the substitute Bongonda. Yet the equalizer for the home team would come against the run of play as Bongonda headed in to make it 1-1 in the 89th minute. Cercle pressed for what would have been a deserved win, but it didn't get any further than an attempt by Olivier Deman.

Cercle eventually had to settle for a draw. It was scant reward for the effort they had showed, but Genk goalkeeper Vandevoordt and VAR kept Cercle from victory.

Racing Genk: Vandevoordt, Muñoz (Preciado 46'), Sadick, Lucumi, Arteaga, Toma (Trésor 58'), Thorstvedt (Oyen 88'), Heynen, Ito, Onuachu (Ugbo 46'), Paintsil (Bongonda 58').

Cercle Brugge: Didillon, Vitinho, Daland, Sousa, Miangue Van Der Bruggen, Lopes Da Silva, Hotic (Vanhoutte 88'), Matondo, Somers (Denkey 82') and Millàn (Deman 72')

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In the Round of 16 of the Croky Cup, our Groen-Zwart were away to KV Mechelen. At AFAS Stadium, Somers had given us the lead before half-time. Despite a strong display from Warleson, Malinois equalized just after the hour. The match went to extra time and Storm provided the match winner for the Kakkers with a goal deep in the second half of extra time.

Cercle started the match with several changes, playing a 4-4-2 formation under Muslic and Dewulf. It was therefore a bit of a wait to see how this much-changed side would connect with each other.

Things would work out well in that regard, although Mechelen were clearly keen to change things up after having lost the league match. Both teams kept each other in check for a long time, with only half chances for both sides. After 35 minutes, though, Thibo Somers would find the opening goal. Hotic launched a free kick towards the goal, and Thoelen came off his line but did not reach the ball, which wasn't cleared from the box. After a few scuffed attempts to clear the ball, it fell to the Cercle striker, who did not hesitate to give the Groen-Zwart the lead.

Mechelen immediately tried to respond, but were denied by a strong performance from goalkeeper Warleson. After the break, the Malinois increased the pressure even further, and the Groen-Zwart were forced to sit deeper under the pressure from Mechelen, but remained calm in defense as they waited to spring a rare counter-attack.

Cercle would continue to count on a strong Warleson who dived at Cuypers' feet to clear a cross. After a foul, it was the end of the match for the young striker from Mechelen, and the vastly experienced De Camargo replaced him. The former Belgian international was on the pitch then, when Schoofs fired a powerful shot from distance. Warleson could only tip the ball onto the post and it came back into play, to the feet of the substitute and he brought the hosts level.

For a moment, Mechelen seemed ready to push on for a winner, but the Groen-Zwart restored the balance and the match went to extra time. The further half hour looked to be for nothing, as both teams were clearly not at their best, until Nikola Storm tried a bit of skill two minutes before the final whistle. Cutting inside from just outside the area and then beating his marker, his shot was fired hard into the far corner. With this late goal, the Malinois narrowly avoided a penalty shootout and the cup campaign for our Groen-Zwart is now over, despite a creditable performance.

Cercle: Warleson, Vitinho (Velkovski 96'), Sousa, Daland, Decostere, Waldo (Deman 39', Ackx 110'), Kanouté, Vanhoutte (Cassaert 69'), Hotic (Lopes Da Silva 69'), Millàn and Somers (Sampers 91')

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opening minute of the half, would miss a huge opportunity. Deman tried as well, with a long shot.
Hotic fired a free kick over and wide before being subbed off for Denkey. The Togolese striker almost made a difference immediately, with a long shot and then came close to a goal with two headers. Koffi made a nice save on the first header and saw the second flash centimeters wide, while in between, Gholizadeh hit the post on a rare counterattack.

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