Leader Union starts the play-offs on a false note and leaves Racing Genk | Sport


Union started the Champions’ Play-offs on a false note. In an intense match, an experimental Racing Genk defeated the Brussels team 1-0. Tolu scored the only goal after half an hour. Union sees Anderlecht level, but retains the advantage. The Limburgers climb to fourth place.

After Anderlecht’s 1-0 victory against Antwerp, Union knew what it had to do: win on the field of KRC Genk. The number one of the regular competition started in the Cegeka Arena with Mohammed Amoura on the bench (he would remain there) and with Charles Vanhoutte in defense next to Burgess and Sykes.

But the home team in particular came to kick-off in a very changed state. Partly because of all the absentees – Bonsu Baah was suspended and, in addition to the well-known Sor and Oyen, Heynen, Nkuba and even the young Adedeji-Sternberg were also unavailable – Wouter Vrancken had to figure things out. He opted for a kind of 3-4-3 for the first time this season. The trio Sadick-Cuesta-McKenzie formed the defense, El Ouahdi and Kayembe played as wingbacks and El Hadj and El Khannouss operated in the back of Tolu.

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That experimental Genk played its best half in weeks and perhaps even months. Fierce and liberated because the top six has been reached after such a difficult season. At Union the opposite was the case. Then title stress? In any case, it looked nervous. Things weren’t going well defensively either. Burgess was repeatedly trumped by Tolu. Sykes had a tough time.

Still, the first big chance was for the visitors. Sadiki cleverly ran free on a corner kick and Puertas delivered the well-rehearsed number, but the 19-year-old Brussels resident pushed the ball wide through a bunch of legs.

A few seconds later the goal almost fell on the other side. Cuesta found El Hadj, who played deep for Tolu. The tall Nigerian easily won the sprint duel against Burgess, but then shot at goalkeeper Moris.

Just before the half hour, Tolu gave his team the lead. Hrosovsky stabbed the ball deep for Tolu. The striker was faster than Sykes and placed the ball past the doubting Moris in goal. A deserved 1-0. Not much later, Kayembe – a strong match by the way – had a close look at the 2-0, but the wingback shot over from close range.


Union only countered this with a place ball from Puertas in the first half. The Spanish Swiss’ attempt zoomed wide. 1-0 at half time. In the second act, the people of Brussels gradually improved their match. It resulted in small chances for Lazare and Lapoussin.

The Cegeka Arena briefly screamed for a penalty. Came through a remarkable moment. Moris wanted Burgess to take a goal kick and played his teammate. He stopped the ball with his hands, which Genk found very suspicious. Referee Laforge didn’t want to hear about it.

Just like the ref didn’t see a penalty on the other side. Nilsson kicked Vandevoordt, after which Sadick slid firmly on the Swede.

It was at such a moment that Genk came under increasing pressure. Cuesta had also had to stop the fight in the meantime and Tolu was suffocating. The Limburgers were longing for the end, although they gave little away. They escaped in minute 82 when Castro-Montes played McKenzie between the legs and suddenly found himself face to face with Vandevoordt. The Genk goalkeeper had the right reflex. It remained 1-0.

In the final phase, Burgess was shown a red card when he threw a throw-in from close range into Tolu’s face.

No substitute for Amoura, who broke a bone in his face

No Mohammed Amoura, no goals for Union. The Algerian was in the selection, but after a collision with the referee during an international match, Alexander Blessin could not possibly drop him into the starting line-up against Genk.

The striker broke a bone in his face, there was swelling and he could not train for five days. He warmed up with a mask to protect his nose and eye socket, but the raid did not come. “That risk was too great,” his coach nodded. “A little speed would have done us good. Especially after the break, there were a few moments where we could have used him on the counter.” His replacement Eckert was yesterday only a shadow of what Amoura can sometimes do.

For the first time since September 2023, Union did not score a goal in a league match. That was also against Racing Genk – the last competition defeat until yesterday. The absence of their seasoning certainly plays a role in this. “From what I understand, he was still in too much pain and they wanted to take it easy,” Mathias Rasmussen also said. “The dynamics are different then. Amoura is a constant threat at the back with his speed. But also the other times when he did not participate, we created chances and were able to score. Only today we couldn’t find the recipe.” (NVE)


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End of second half


Red card for Christian Burgess

The pots are still boiling over. Burgess has had enough of stalling and throws a throw-in straight at Tolu. Red, Laforge thinks. Not smart.


Stretching time

El Ouahdi and Zeqiri look for the corner flag and try to play it out. That also works, because at Union they make a stupid mistake.


Vandevoordt firmly

Castro-Montes cuts inside again and arms his left, but it is less good than his right. Vandevoordt can catch quite easily.



Not the time to be sloppy, Cameron Puertas. At the start of the five minutes of extra time, he kills an opportunity.


Bilal El Khannous is replaced by Andi Zeqiri


Noah Sadiki is replaced by Elton Kabangu


Vandevoordt is not surprised

A cross from Teklab blows too far, but can easily fall in. Vandevoordt pushes into a corner for safety.


Loic Lapoussin is replaced by Henok Teklab


Yellow card for Ross Sykes


Yellow card for Bilal El Khannous


Almost Castro-Montes!

Union agrees there. Castro-Montes craftily makes his way towards the goal and stands in the small rectangle. He taps around Vandevoordt, but not within the frame.


10 minutes left

Can Union still make a stand? With less than ten minutes on the clock, the leader has little time left. Galarza doesn’t kick a ball that far, it’s too sloppy on the other side.


Anouar Ait El Hadj is replaced by Alieu Fadera


Lazare is overconfident

Lazare kicks into the side netting from an impossible angle. He’s been annoyed for a while now, and it’s not helping his game.


Header Tolu

Finally another goal threat from the home team. Tolu heads straight at Moris.



Also tapped Lazare

Union is appearing for Vandevoordt more and more often. Now Lazare claims a tap in the box, but again Laforge does not respond.


Carlos Cuesta is replaced by Eduard Sobol


Nilsson kicked!

Lapoussin makes a wonderful pass to Nilsson with the outside of his foot. He can go at Vandevoordt, but the goalkeeper saves. Sadick mows down the Swede after he has kicked. Isn’t this a penalty?


Genk wants a penalty

Remarkable moment. Moris wants Burgess to take the goal kick and passes his teammate. He puts the ball well with his hands, and at Genk they think that’s hands. Referee Laforge says no.

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