In the first leg against LASK Linz, Christian Burgess (32) was the savior for Union with a late winning goal, this time the Brit was the schlemiel. Union lost 3–0 in Austria, but the people of Brussels still have everything in their own hands in the Europa League.
Things can happen quickly in football. Christian Burgess knows this better than anyone. With a handball he caused the penalty in the Raiffeisen Arena in Austria that resulted in the opening goal for Linz. The Briton swore and with him all of Union. Although the cursing will soon subside.
Burgess will be the first to put his mistake into perspective afterwards. Life has its ups and downs, the Englishman learned that early in his career. At first he was good enough for Arsenal at youth level, but he quickly dropped to the lower English football leagues. Until Union came for him in 2020 and his career took a new turn. It can change.
There is also no one at Union itself who will blame Burgess after this match. They also did not do that to goalkeeper Anthony Moris when he blundered against Liverpool. Burgess’s track record at Union – just like that of Moris – is too great for that. The tough defender was promoted to 1B and has been an absolute rock at the back for three seasons. He is almost always fit and his mentality also makes him a blessing for every coach. Many opponents would rather not see him come. Logically, Burgess always plays football with his chest forward and perfectly embodies what Union stands for as a club. One mistake doesn’t change that, even if it was an expensive one.
The 2-0 came before half time and showed that Linz was simply hyper-efficient. Thanks to the very loud support from the home fans, and LASK is also a good team that uses the same tactics as Union. It is difficult to do otherwise, because just like Alexander Blessin at Union, they have a coach from the Red Bull stable in Thomas Sageder. So be aggressive and put high pressure. Two weeks ago, Union found it difficult to find an answer to this and that was no different now.
Especially because it wasn’t just Burgess who had half an off day against Linz. It can happen to the best of people. Take Mohamed Amoura for example. The striker was praised last week after his phenomenal performance against Club Brugge, but he was not fully fit after the shoulder injury he sustained in the same match. That was evident against Linz. After just five minutes, Horvath committed an unpunished foul on the little Algerian, after which he immediately grabbed his tightly wrapped shoulder. At no point did Amoura return to normal.
The fact that trainer Alexander Blessin had taken the risk to let him start the match shows how much they believe in Amoura at Union, but how much the people of Brussels wanted to win this match. After all, they want to winter in Europe for the second season in a row and preferably in the Europa League. Even though the Brussels team scored 3-0 after half-time and even though Toulouse surprisingly beat Liverpool in the same group, they still have everything in their own hands at Union. Win in Toulouse at the end of November and that second place belongs to Union again with one matchday to go. So no man overboard for the people of Brussels. And Burgess will be there again in the league match against Kortrijk on Sunday.