May 21 – Club Brugge have retained their Belgian league crown with a 3-3 draw against Anderlecht, enough to cement their domestic dominance after a superb regular season but disappointing season finale in the playoffs.
On Thursday, Brugge visited arch rivals Anderlecht requiring a draw to defend their title. The visitors took a 3-1 thanks to a brace from midfielder Hans Vanaken and Dutch striker Noa Lang before Vincent Kompany’s team clawed their way back with strikes from both Lukas Nmecha and Jacob Bruun Larsen.
“It was a fantastic year, we just deserved this,” said Brugge midfielder Ruud Vormer. “We were simply the best. Full stop. Of course it was not always good, but if you always give the best of yourself, you will go a long way. We will continue to do that.”
It’s the first time since 1978 that Club Brugge have won consecutive league titles. Coach Philippe Clement won his third successive title after his triumph with Racing Genk. His team dominated the regular season and remained competitive in their Champions League group until the last round of matches following surprise victories home and away against Zenit St Petersburg.
The arrival of Dutch duo Noah Lang and Bas Dost provided the club with new impetus in the second half of the season and even if an outbreak of Covid-19 limited the availability of playing personnel for a stretch Brugge remained untouchable, ending the season with a 16-point lead.
That mammoth advantage was halved at the start of the playoffs and Brugge panicked, losing against Racing Genk 3-0 and drawing with both Anderlecht and Antwerp, but on Thursday Clement’s charges finally crossed the finish line with an entertaining draw in Brussels.
“We have to be honest: it is not normal that we should have been ahead by 15 points on the penultimate match day – if you add up all the points – but we still have to compete for the title,” said Brugge chairman Bart Verhaeghe. “My sports heart is bleeding. As an athlete, you want to win or lose, but with correct rules of the game. Halving the points isn’t.”
“You can’t explain it anywhere in Europe, no one thinks it’s fair.”
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1634800034labto1634800034ofdlr1634800034owedi1634800034sni@o1634800034fni1634800034