Belgian outreach: Monaco’s Cercle Brugges win promotion, Qatar’s Eupen secure status

March 12 – Cercle Brugge gained promotion to the Belgian top flight following a tense 3-1 play-off win against Beerschot Wilrijk. KAS Eupen prolonged their stay in the Pro League with a thumping 4-0 victory over Mouscron. 

Brugge had narrowly lost the first leg of the two-tiered play-off against Beerschot, but were the dominant force in the second leg at home. Xavier Mercier and Cryser gave the hosts a 2-0 lead before the interval.

But in the second half Van Hyfte pulled one back for the visitors, setting up a grand stand finish with AS Monaco’s owner Vadim Vasilyev, technical director­ Michael Emenalo and coach  Leonardo Jardim all watching on from the stands. Last year the club from the principality obtained a majority stake in the Belgian club.

In the 88th minute Irvin Cardona converted a penalty to ensure Brugge’s promotion to the topflight, winning 3-2 on aggregate.

If Cercle Brugge won promotion, Eupen survived in the top flight at the expense of KV Mechelen, but only just. The Qatari-owned club won on the last match day at home against Mouscron 4-0, scoring all four goals in the last twenty minutes. The result ensured the team of coach Claude Makelele would stay in the top tier of Belgian football as Mechelen managed only a 2-0 win against Waasland-Beveren.

But Eupen’s win was perceived as controversial as the club had never scored four goals before in the topflight and went at a rate of one goal every 75 minutes this season. Mouscron’s defending was also sloppy.

“We have already looked at the images. We have our doubts about the score line and the way in which Eupen scored,” reacted KV Mechelen chairman Johan Timmermans.

Contact the writer of this Samindra Kunti at moc.l1537343121labto1537343121ofdlr1537343121owedi1537343121sni@o1537343121fni1537343121