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A draw in the city derby, the (not so) fair share for Club

Jupiler Pro League

Match Day 1 of the Champions’ Play-offs featured the Bruges City Derby. The hosts took a first half lead through Denkey, but saw it canceled out by Skov Olsen in a second half replete with opportunities for Club. A draw is a result both teams would not have agreed upon beforehand.

The defeat at STVV on the final match day of the regular season chimed in the demise of Ronny Deila, succeeded by Nicky Hayen as interim coach. The upheaval came with a number of changes to the Sarting XI, as Jackers manned goal at the expense of the injured Mignolet, and Odoi was given the nod instead of Sabbe. Finally, Nusa also started alongside Skóraś, in support of lone forward Thiago. Skov Olsen, not yet 100% fit, started from the bench.

The opening minutes saw a lot of Club possession, without leading to any clear danger. Cercle soon restored the balance, however, and threated first as Ravych brought the ball inside the box allowing Felipe Augusto to head towards goal, unable to unsettle Jackers, however. Soon after, Club's goalie was called upon again when Denkey thwarted the off-side trap and went for goal. Cercle's prodigious striker failed in front of Jackers, however, a narrow escape for the visitors, who did not take too long to react through a Skóraś corner kick aimed to the far post where Thiago headed it back into the pack, where Ordóñez was unable to frame his attempt, aiming it high over. Club's attack now started asking the Cercle defense questions, but without true success: Warleson proving the better of Nusa's shot, and seeing Vetlesen's effort deviated wide. The ensuing corner kick came to Odoi, but his cracking shot ended up over the top right hand corner.

With Club piling on the pressure, the hosts were grappling for air, but halfway through the first half they also headed forward. Somers tried his luck with a hard cross/shot, but the ball went wide. Another swift reaction followed as Thiago found the space in the back of the Cercle defense to pull it back to Skóraś, but the Pole could not adequately commit to the shot. A few minutes later, the opener finally arrived: a Van Der Bruggen free kick set up Utkus to play it wide to Denkey, who simply could not miss to make it 1-0. A blow to the hosts, but with seconds on the clock, it looked like Nusa would draw level, but the goal was disallowed due to prior off-side by Thiago. 

The second half started with one personnel change at Club, Odoi taken off injured, making way for Sabbe. Club immediately surged ahead looking for that equaliser. A first threat came as Vanaken teed up Skóraś, but the Pole could not get a good tap to the ball. A bit later, Nusa was singled out behind the Cercle defense, but this time Warleson proved too high a hurdle, the rebound meeting with the post, and the following chance for Skóraś cleared from the goal line by Ravych. Moments later, Thiago again found Nusa by the left hand side, but again Warleson saved the day, pushing the ball against the post. A tough break for Club, and as Vetlesen found skipper Vanaken with a neat through-ball, another chance went missing as Club's captain was unable to frame his attempt. Cercle was seeing stars, even if Abu Francis, just on, helped the team surface for one moment, firing the ball over.

Club kept pushing for that all-important equaliser, but once again the woodwork thwarted Club's plans. A free kick from the edge of the box was taken with force by Vanaken, but the crossbar denied Club the goal it so deserved. Moments later, Sabbe found Nielsen by the first post, and the Dane had a good touch to the ball, but once again Warleson came to the rescue, pawing it from just under the crossbar. Catching his breath, the goalie was once again called upon as Jutglà tried his luck with a shot aimed at the first post. A rampant Club maintained its pressure, and the equaliser was bound to follow. A good link-up between De Cuyper and Jutglà ended up with Skov Olsen who clear headedly tucked in the 1-1 in the far corner. All to play for now, and Club now kept coming. A fine cross was met by Thiago by the far corner, but his header chipped off Daland into corner kick.

A nerve wrecking five minutes of added time started, and again Warleson saved the day for his team, keeping Nielsen again from adding that second for Club. No more goals followed, leaving both teams with just the one point. Based on the number of chances, Club deserved a better fate, but it was not to be. Next up in these Play-Offs is a home game against Anderlecht.

Champions’ Play-offs – Match Day 1
10,000 – Jan Breydel Stadium
 Mr. Erik Lambrechts
Cercle Brugge:
Warleson – Edgaras Utkus, Jesper Daland, Boris Popovic, Christiaan Ravych (61’ Hugo Siquet) – Hannes Van Der Bruggen, Leonardo Lopes, Felipe Augusto (61’ Abu Francis) – Thibo Somers, Kévin Denkey (90+5’ Kazeem Olaigbe), Alan Minda (73’ Félix Lemaréchal).
Bench: Maxime Delanghe, Hugo Siquet, Jonas Lietaert, Félix Lemaréchal, Abu Francis, Nils De Wilde, Malamine Efekele, Kazeem Olaigbe, Abdoul Kader Ouattara.
Coach: Miron Muslic.

Club Brugge: Nordin Jackers – Denis Odoi (46’ Kyriani Sabbe), Joel Ordóñez, Brandon Mechele, Bjorn Meijer (78’ Maxim De Cuyper) – Raphael Onyedika, Hugo Vetlesen (65’ Casper Nielsen), Hans Vanaken – Michał Skóraś (56’ Ferran Jutglà), Igor Thiago, Antonio Nusa (65’ Andreas Skov Olsen).
Bench: Josef Bursik, Nick Shinton, Jorne Spileers, Kyriani Sabbe, Maxim De Cuyper, Casper Nielsen, Éder Balanta, Shion Homma, Chemsdine Talbi, Andreas Skov Olsen, Ferran Jutglà.
Coach: Nicky Hayen.

Yellow: Onyedika
32' Denkey (1-0), 83' Skov Olsen (1-1)