"This was a bridge too far"

In football, the 9th day of play caused quite a stir, with referees playing a central role. AA Gent coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck hit the roof after his team were denied a penalty at Club Brugge, losing the match 1-0. In Genk, the referee showed a red card to the wrong player.
Hein Vanhaezebrouck (AA Gent) was furious.

You may still remember AA Gent from last season's Champions League campaign. Unlike some key players, the coach stayed, trying to build a new team. The battle of Flanders, at FC Bruges, was a new test. AA Gent lost it 1-0 after a dull game which hardly deserved a winner on a cold and wet Sunday afternoon.

Vanhaezebrouck knew that details would decide the outcome of the match. When trailing 1-0, AA Gent claimed a penalty, but weren't given one. This happens more often in football, but this time there was more: head referee Alexandre Boucaut had the sun in his eyes, couldn't see it well, and received some help from his assistants: "Penalty!" Ghent heard the assistant saying. However, Boucaut ignored it and let the play continue.

Football pundits agree that it was a penalty, but found Vanhaezebrouck's reaction ("It stops here. This is going way too far") a bridge too far. "This is part of football", the commentators said, Vanhaezebrouck is going too far himself.

The win lifts Club Brugge, after a disappointing European game, over AA Gent in the ranking.

Kurt Desplenter

Anderlecht break the spell at Standard

"Super Sunday" saw two other interesting games. Anderlecht finally managed to beat Standard in the 'clasico' in Liège, 0-1. It was, again, a disappointing game that didn't deserve a winner.

In a late match, KRC Genk moved past KV Mechelen (2-1), a relief for Genk and a much needed 3 points to keep the top-6 in sight. In that game, KV Mechelen's midfielder Mats Rits stopped the ball with his hand to prevent a goal. After some commotion, referee Luc Wouters decided to reduce KV Mechelen to 10 men, showing... innocent Laurens Paulussen a red card. "I sent off the wrong player", Wouters later admitted.

It is not clear whether KV Mechelen will launch a complaint.This being said, those calling for video referees will shout even louder after this day of play.

From Zulte Waregem to Waasland-Beveren

Zulte Waregem still have the lead with 20 points from 9 games. Anderlecht are just 2 points behind (18), followed by Club Brugge (16) and Charleroi (16). Standard and AA Gent have 15 points.

Just outside the top-6 are Kortrijk and KV Oostende (14) with RC Genk one point further behind (13) and KV Mechelen in 10th place (12).

In the bottom half, Sporting Lokeren have more breathing space now (10 points). Excelsior Mouscron (9), STVV (8), Westerlo (7) and Eupen (7) are close on their heels.

Bottom-of-the-table are now Waasland-Beveren (6).