Keeping hopes alive: bottom three of the Belgian Pro League all win to keep pressure on those above

The first weekend of the Belgian Pro League in 2023 saw all three of the bottom three pick up wins, with two of those against teams now well and truly in the relegation dogfight.

Oostende 1-2 Seraing

Many Oostende fans and players saw this as a must win game, and it seemed like they had managed to get off to the perfect start when Nick Batzner fired them ahead after just a matter of minutes. However, the hosts failed to take their chances and were punished when Steve Mvoue placed a shot into the far corner just before half-time. Despite having 17 shots in total, Oostende could not find that second goal and began to get frustrated. Things go worse when on loan Metz and Cape Verde striker Vagner struck a well timed finish in the 75th minute to give the bottom side a shock lead. Frustration boiled over for the hosts, as Osaze Urhoghide and Robbie D’Haese got themselves sent off within the space of two minutes, giving Oostende no chance of a comeback. Oostende are now winless in four and dropped into the relegation battle, while Seraing picked up their first points, let alone win, in months. They remain bottom, but gave themselves some hope

Zulte Waregem 2-0 Mechelen

New boys Ruud Vormer and Christian Brüls were straight into the starting line-up for Mbaye Leye’s side, and they certainly had an impact. Within five minutes, a far more confident and assured Zulte Waregem were ahead, with Nicolas Rommens firing in a free kick. Vormer then left his mark on proceedings, with Dimitri Lavalee bringing the former Club Brugge midfielder down in the box. Zinho Gano stepped up to grab his 5th league goal in 8 appearances. It could have been far more for the hosts, who were wasteful with their 17 shots. However, Mechelen were poor and flat, mustering a measly 0.40 xG and looking well beaten throughout.

OH Leuven v Kortrijk

Both results above put pressure on Kortrijk going into the final game of the matchday. Unlike Oostende and Zulte Waregem, the away side got off to a poor start when Musa Al-Tamari put Leuven ahead. Yet, just before half-time Uruguayan striker Felipe Avenatti drew them level, with Oleksii Sych getting the assist. Sych would then have the away side in front just after the break, with Faiz Selemani the provider. Louis Patris pulled Leuven level in the 76th minute, but Avenatti struck again in added time to give the Kerels a dramatic win. Kortrijk have put together back to back wins and now sit just outside the relegation zone.

Next weekend in the Pro League, Zulte Waregem face leaders Genk away, while Kortrijk also have a difficult fixture against Gent. Oostende and Mechelen face-off in a relegation six pointer, while Seraing host local rivals Standard Liege. All these results have also dragged Eupen into the mix after their late defeat to Charleroi. Eupen will be at home to Sint-Truiden.

GBeNeFN | Ben Jackson

More European Football News