Following a lacklustre performance against Shamrock Rovers, which was partly due to a sickness bug that went through the squad, Gent went into tonight’s game against Molde needing nothing short of a win to qualify. The Norwegians, soon to be champions of their domestic league, could have qualified the week before. Unfortunately for them, they threw away a 2-0 lead against Djurgardens and lost 3-2.
Knowing they only needed a point to qualify, Molde were more than content to sit men behind the ball and frustrate Gent in the first half. Gent probed the away sides defence, looking for gaps. Hyun-Seok Hong, Andrew Hjulsager and Ibrahim Salah were all doing their best to create, but the chances they did create were not taken. An injury to Mattis Samoise halfway through the first half added insult to injury, as at the break it looked like the Norwegian’s sides tactics were going to pay off.
Yet, it was the aforementioned Hjulsager who finally made the breakthrough. Hong found the midfielder, and he made no mistake to make it 1-0. Molde now had to open up more, and it always seemed that if this happened, Gent’s creative players would then be able to exploit the space.
The second goal came from an unlikely source, as defender Bruno Godeau took advantage of some slack Molde defending to prod home from a set piece. Godeau himself looked surprised to be on the scoresheet, whereas the home fans were starting to believe that their side was through to the next round.
The third, and probably decisive goal, was also the best of the match. Hong was once again the provider, as he found the run of Sven Kums from deep. Kums was composed, deftly chipping the ball over the onrushing Jacob Karlstrom in the Molde goal. At this point, both sides knew that the game was over.
Jens Petter Hauge, who is rumoured to be in danger of having his loan move cut short, was fouled by Karlstrom late in the game to give the home side a penalty. Substitute and top scorer Hugo Cuypers made no mistake from the spot. It finished 4-0 thanks to a dominant second half display from the home side, who despite poor results away in Sweden and Ireland, can now look ahead to the next round of the Conference League.