Thanks to a satisfying victory in Waregem, our Groen-Zwart secured a place in the European Play-Offs. Standard de Liège was to be the first opponent in this set of six matches. Before the game, the side from Liège had three points more than Cercle; losing was therefore out of the question for the Association. Muslic opted to play Lopes and Francis in midfield, with Van der Bruggen on the bench. Daland was also not completely match-fit so Marcelin would start the match in his place.
Both teams had something to play for and that was apparent in the game’s opening minutes. After two minutes, Somers gave Ueda a chance to open the scoring, but the Cercle Player of the Season saw his shot go wide. It would be a while until the next opportunity. It came at the other end of the pitch Emond. Cimirot played in the Liège striker to a one-on-one with Majecki with one pass, but Emond's shot was overhit. About three minutes later we saw a fairly similar play, but Ohio was also unable to give the Rouches the lead. Standard played their football from the back and showed a lot of guts, but mainly had to rely on playing on the counter. Cercle were able to strike quickly and Ueda almost took advantage of it. After a long ball over the top, our top scorer tried to chip Bodart, but couldn't put enough power behind it. Shortly before that, there were claims for a penalty after Marcelin knocked over Bokadi at a free kick. A few seconds later, Somers ran excellently in behind the Liège defence, but took too much time to shoot. The visitors could not clear the ball from the penalty area, so Gboho also had a chance, but went wide. The final attack of the half was for the Rouches. Ohio set up Emond for a huge chance from the flank, but again the striker was unable to score. Cercle had had the upper hand and all in all claimed to have done for more the lead than Standard, but lacked a finishing touch in front of goal.
In the second half, Cercle started with a flash. Bodart made an excellent save after a header from Somers at a corner and also had to dive to keep out a low shot from Somers again. Standard was unable to build play in the second half. Deman found Ueda near the penalty spot on the hour mark, but Bokadi was able to make a diving block. A few seconds later, Ueda again had a header from close range, but it was again Bokadi who blocked his effort. The Association continued to push forward, but could count on little sympathy from match referee Verboomen. He refused to give a penalty or a free kick on the edge of the box, and VAR did not intervene either. It was debatable to say the least. Ueda was offered another chance in the penalty area, but was unable to finish quickly enough. The match gradually petered out, to the joy of the Liège side. They had delivered a poor performance on the pitch, but still will return to Liège with a point and a three-point lead over our Groen-Zwart.
Cercle: 1. Majecki, 5. Popovic, 11. Gboho (9. Denkey 70'), 17. Francis, 22. Lopes (28. Van der Bruggen, 75'), 23. Deman (10. Hotic, 75'), 24. Marcelin (Daland 79'), 34. Somers, 36. Ueda, 41. Siquet, 66. Ravych
Standard: 16. Bodart, 6 Dusenne, 8. Cimirot, 9. Emond (25. Hautekiet, 90') , 10. Ohio (28. Perica 66'), 11. Donnum (38. Laursen 66'), 13 Fossey, 20. Bokadi, 21. Melegoni, 22. Balikwisha (61. Canak 31'), 34. Laifis