Not only the sun, but also a lot of Westel fans were on hand for KVC’s last home match this season. Before the game, some players were first honoured for their merit at the club. Vetokele and Mabea received a round of applause from the crowd after their loyal service, while Nacer Chadli was then again applauded for his 500th game at professional level. A unique number, which he and his teammates hoped to seal with a three-pointer against the winner of these Europe Play-Offs, KAA Gent.
Line-up KVC Westerlo: N. Gillekens, P. Perdichizzi, N. Chadli (50′ M. Fixelles), L. Van Eenoo (83′ R. Seigers), N. Madsen, M. De Cuyper (83′ E. Jordanov), B. Reynolds, R. Neustaedter, T. Van den Keybus, D. Nene (88′ G. Yow), Y. Matsuo (88′ M. Gümüskaya)
The quiet early stages gave the commentator on duty plenty of time to list the names of the 22 men’s footballers. Both teams let the ball go around smoothly, without too much pressure from their direct opponent.
That all changed after man-in-form Nene worked a header from Chadli’s past goalkeeper Nardi. The revelry in’t Kuipje proved to be short-lived, as referee De Cremer disallowed the goal for a foul.
From then on, our Kemphans took more and more control of the game. De Cuyper, Matsuo and again Nene all fired at the Gent goal, but this time Nardi did not let them get away.
Gent’s goal threat waited until the 20th minute. Samoise took a dropped ball in one go, but his effort was easily turned away by Gillekens, who again took up position under the crossbar in these Europe Play-Offs.
However, the visitors’ revival was immediately snuffed out by a fine goal from Nacer Chadli. In his 500th professional game, he may add another notch to his goal statistics after a nice placing ball on a corner kick by De Cuyper.
However, the deserved 1-0 quickly became another flattered 1-1 for Gent. After some fumbling, the ball landed at the foot of Hjulsager, who left Gillekens defenceless with a low hard shot.
The goal broke the Kemphans’ rhythm, but at the other end, Gent were unable to create any real danger. Thus, after 45 minutes, both sides could seek refreshment in the dressing rooms for a 15-minute break.
The transition from the fresh dressing room to the piercing sun on the pitch clearly had a paralysing effect on the players on the pitch. In the early stages of the second half, a substitution of jubilant Chadli was therefore the only feat we could record.
Who was looking to change that, as so often this season, was Maxim De Cuyper. The nimble left-back steamed into Gent’s penalty area and saw his blocked cross swirl just over Nardi’s goal.
As the minutes progressed, the match began to take more and more the shape of an end-of-season match. Like the sleeves in the stands, our list of chances therefore remained short. Just when everyone seemed to be settling for a 1-1 draw, Hugo Cuypers came like a devil out of a box. The Gent top marksman scored his 24th of the season without hesitation.
Cuypers’ goal inspired his substitute striker buddy Tissoudali to score his evening goal as well. Eye to eye with Gillekens, he did not fail and put the 1-3 on the board. Game over for KVC, which thus went down after a good first half in its last home match of the season.
Report: Glen Van Herck
Photos: Luc Meynaerts