BeNe Clubs in Europe: Qualifying rounds week 2

The second legs of the Champions League and Europa Conference League second qualifying rounds took place last week. Genk, Club Brugge, Gent and Twente once again took to get pitch, trying to solidify spots in the next round.

Yet, things largely did not go to plan for the BeNe clubs. Here is a look back at what happened, and where things stand coefficient wise.

Belgium: Genk nightmare, Club Brugge unconvincing

Genk kicked things off for Belgium last Wednesday as they hosted Swiss side Servette. After drawing the first leg 1-1 away, Wouter Vrancken’s side looked to get the job done at home.

Within five minutes, Genk was up a man. Enzo Crivelli’s late challenge on Bryan Heynen saw the Servette striker receive an early red card. With a man advantage for the rest of the game, one would have thought Genk would close this tie out. Yet, they could not do it. Despite taking the lead twice via Mike Trésor (penalty) and Tolu Arokodare, Servette managed to equalize on both occasions. After a 2-2 scoreline (3-3 on aggregate), penalties were required. Genk failed to score two of their three spot kicks, losing 4-1 in the shootout. Servette moves on and will face Rangers next. Genk falls to the Europa League third qualifying round, where they take on Olumpiakos Piraeus.

Things did not go much better for Club Brugge, who went to Denmark with a 3-0 lead against AGF Aarhus. Ronny Deila did make some changes from the first leg, seeing that the tie was well in Club’s favour.

Yet, the hosts took the lead just three minutes in via Felix Beijmo. That lifted the hopes of home fans as they cheered AGF on to complete an unlikely comeback. Fortunately for Club, that was the worst it got. While they failed to score on the night – losing the game 1-0 – they did manage to progress 3-1 on aggregate. Next for Club Brugge will be Icelandic side KA, who knocked out Dundalk 5-3 on aggregate.

The other Belgian side to play last week was Gent, who held a comfortable 5-1 lead from their home leg versus Zilina. The return leg in Slovakia was much like the first match. Goals from Hugo Cuypers (twice), Tarik Tissoudali, Andrew Hjulsager, and Pieter Gerkens saw Gent run away with a 5-2 win on the night and 10-3 on aggregate. Next for De Buffalo’s is Polish side Pogón Szczecin, who defeated Linfield in their second qualifying round tie.

Overall, with a record of 1-1-1 last week, Belgium collected 0.300 coefficient points. They now have 0.800 points on the season, and 35.200 over a five-year period. The latter is good for eighth in that ranking, where they are expected to stay throughout the campaign. The same three teams will compete in the third qualifying round of play over the next two weeks.

Netherlands: Twente survives scare

The sole Dutch side to play in Europe was Twente. Holding on to a 1-0 lead from the first leg against Hammarby, there was still work to be done in the return leg.

The home side would level the aggregate score in the 38th minute via Jusef Erabi. Extra time was required since neither side could grab another goal. In the second half of extra time, Sem Steijn once again played the role of hero. That put Twente back in front, which they would hold on to that lead for the final few minutes. A 1-1 draw on the night was enough to send Joseph Oosting’s side through 2-1 on aggregate. Next for them is Riga FC, who pulled off a stunning comeback in their tie against Kecskemet.

Overall, Twente’s draw brought in 0.100 points for Netherlands. That slightly increased their lead over France for fifth spot in the five-year coefficient ranking. The Dutch are now on 52.400 points from the last five seasons, with France still chasing them on 51.914.

PSV Eindhoven and AZ Alkmaar join in on the action over the next two weeks, as they look to add to the Dutch coefficient. PSV takes on Austrian side Sturm Graz in the Champions League third qualifying round, while AZ battles FC Santa Coloma of Andorra in the Conference League. France will see Marseille take to the pitch in the Champions League, as they get set to face Panathinaikos.

David Parkes

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