Standard de Liège, a traditional top-5 club in Belgium, had a disastrous start to the season and also dropped a lot of points in "easy" matches. They lost both their games against Sint-Truiden for example, a club situated in the relegation zone.
It looked as if Standard would miss out on the coveted top-6 spot, after they had been in the doldrums for too long, also after Yannick Ferrera had been appointed as the new head coach, and after changes in the club management, where owner Roland Duchâtelet decided to throw in the towel and sell the club.
3 conditions, 3 times bull's eye
Only a miracle could bring Standard back into the top-6, but it happened yesterday. Standard had to win the summit match against KRC Genk, and won it 2-1, after trailing 0-1. At the same time, they had to count on a hiccup for their two challengers - and it happened. Sporting Charleroi first climbed ahead against KV Oostende in Roeselare, but lost anyway (2-1), while Zulte Waregem were downed by KV Kortrijk in the regional West-Flemish derby 1-0.
With the three conditions being fulfilled, Standard climbed back into the top-6. But it's not finished yet, with one day of play to go. Standard travel to KV Mechelen and had better win it to be sure of the coveted ticket.
Zulte Waregem, their most dangerous remaining challengers for the final top-6 ticket, host Mouscron-Péruwelz. They are just one point behind, and KV Mechelen have built a reputation as giant killers this season. KV Kortrijk are still in with a small chance, but they travel to Anderlecht.
Westerlo in deep trouble
At the bottom of the table, Westerlo are in deep trouble after losing 2-1 in Lokeren. Their challengers all picked up fresh points: OH Leuven managed a draw at AA Gent (1-1), while Mouscron-Péruwelz stunned Anderlecht 2-1.
Sporting Lokeren and Mouscron look safe now. Westerlo need a win in their last game against Waasland-Beveren. OH Leuven and Sint-Truiden have 2 points more, but have to watch out, as they could still be leapfrogged by Westerlo.
Club Brugge two points clear
The top of the table sees Club Brugge move two points clear of AA Gent. Bruges sent Sint-Truiden back to Limburg empty-handed (3-0) after an early penalty. The two other goals followed late in the match after STVV had been reduced to 10 men. Club's winger José Izquierdo of Colombia scored one (bottom photo) and also created the early penalty, converted by veteran Timmy Simons.
Anderlecht suffered a shock defeat at Mouscron. Their results in the domestic league are in sharp contrast with their successful European campaign, where they reached the last 16 in the Europa League.
Club Brugge in pole-position for play-off 1
Leaders Club Brugge have 61 points and are followed by AA Gent (59), Anderlecht (52), KV Oostende (49), KRC Genk (45) and Standard (41).
Zulte Waregem are in 7th position (40), followed by KV Kortrijk (39), Charleroi (38), KV Mechelen (34), Waasland-Beveren (33), Lokeren (33), Mouscron-Péruwelz (30), STVV (29), OH Leuven (29) and Westerlo (27).
Top-6 to play-off 1. Only the bottom team is relegated.