Cercle have come alive in the battle for the European Playoffs after a strong performance at 't Kuipke! Cercle put Westerlo under pressure throughout the match and scored easily through Somers, Ueda (a brace each) and Lopes. Nene, on the other hand, was the star for the home team as he managed a hat trick. The team from Bruges are now five points behind leader KAA Gent, but still have two matches against the leaders ahead meaning everything remains in their own hands.
An impressive Cercle remain in the race for European football after a 5-3 victory in Westerlo
Cercle had a big match against De Kemphanen in Westerlo in the race for European football. Muslic made two changes to his team: Gboho and Francis were on the bench as Hotic and Van de Bruggen came into the team. Due to KAA Gent's win on the field of Standard, both teams had to hope for a victory to keep winning the group possible, as Cercle were eight points behind the Buffaloes at kickoff.
The tone of the first half was already clear after fifteen minutes. Cercle forced the hosts’ backs against the wall from the start. One of their first recoveries quickly led to the opening goal: Deman was released on his flank and played in Somers, who showed himself to be the most alert, making it 0-1 after just six minutes. Ueda then got into the game with a run from the flank into the penalty area, but he was not awarded a penalty after making contact with Westerlo defender Neustädter. Three minutes later, Cercle would have a penalty as Marcelin was knocked down by Reynolds at a free kick. Ueda was allowed to take, and convincingly scored his 19th goal of the season. The Japanese attacker had two more good chances - one on a cross by Siquet and again on a long shot - but was unable to get his attempts on target. Then Westerlo, just before the break would be quickly successful: a goal at a set play was tapped in by Nene on a rebound. But Lopes would do better: the Portuguese got forward fantastically well to surprise Bolat, making it 1-3, and it wasn't over yet. Deman was the first to reach the ball after a good shot from Hotic, and won another penalty as a look at VAR could not change Visser's mind either. Ueda convincingly scored his 20th goal of this season, and is now only one goal behind the Pro League’s leading scorer, Cuypers. 1-4 was the score at halftime after a wild 45 minutes.
Our Groen-Zwart would also put pressure on the hosts in the second half, but it was Westerlo who would be the first to score, again via Nene and again on a rebound. But the visitors were not impressed, as not much later, Somers was able to increase the lead again with a sharp shot into the corner to make it 2-5. In addition to Ueda and Somers, Lopes also wanted to get a brace, although he could not capitalise on a good run after playing a one-two with Gboho. Westerlo, however, (briefly) revived their hopes for a third time thanks to Nene, who scored with a powerful long shot into the top corner for his hat trick. Cercle would hold on with a few more chances on the counter, without adding another goal. It was job done for Cercle as they can continue to hope for a good end to this season.
Westerlo: 1. Bolat, 22. Reynolds (33. Jordanov 76’), 33. Neustädter, 24. Tagir (55. Dierckx 46’) , 11. De Cuyper, 45.Nene (3. Yow 83’), 8. Madsen (2. Perdichizzi 83’), 39. Van den Keybus, 7. Van Eenoo, 79. Matsuo, 5. Chadli (17. Gumuskayai 76’)
Cercle Brugge: 1. Majecki, 5. Popovic (17. Francis 46’), 24. Marcelin, 66. Ravych, 41 Siquet (8. Decostere 84’), 28. Van der Bruggen, 22. Da Silva Lopes, 23. Deman (11. Gboho 57’), 34. Somers, 36. Ueda (9. Denkey 72’), 10. Hotic (7. Kehrer 72’)