Club Brugge secure Champions League ticket in a nail-biting match; may bump into English team now
In football, FC Bruges qualified for the Champions League as they squeezed pas Austria's Linz in the play-offs. In fact, Belgium will have two teams in the Champions League this season, a first in 14 years. Champions KRC Genk did not have to play any preliminary rounds. Both teams have a good chance of bumping into one of the four English teams in the group phase (Liverpool, Chelsea, Man.City or Tottenham).
Contrary to England, Germany, France or Spain, only the Belgian champions qualify directly for the Champions League. The runners-up need to survive two qualifying rounds to take part in the Champions League, but for years this didn't work out. This season, it finally worked out, also because Club Brugge did not meet any of the 'big' teams in the last hurdle.
Club Brugge first ousted Dynamo Kyiv and then met Linz, from Austria: a tough nut to crack but not the big name. Club Brugge had won the away game last week (0-1) thanks to a penalty, but had to work hard for their money in Jan Breydel yesterday.
Coming-man Philippe Clement steered Genk to the Champions League last season and now repeated this feat with Club Brugge, just four months later
After midfielder Hans Vanaken finally opened the score with a header on a Ruud Vormer corner kick after the break, Linz managed to equalise after Bruges' Simon Deli made a mistake in defence. It was not until the last minute that Bruges could be relieved, when substitute Dennis made it 2-1.
Club Brugge will accompany champions KRC Genk in the Champions League. Coach Philippe Clement, who secured the title with Racing Genk last spring, seemed to give up the Champions League moving to Bruges last summer, but secured himself of a CL-ticket after all (photo below).