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Antwerp delivers best seasonal performance in European opener …

Find out, and still win. How could it be otherwise that Antwerp made its entry into the Europa League. The goal against was only a footnote, because the Great Old proved to be lord and master on Bulgarian soil. Good for 1-2 wins, and a perfect start in his group.

No Mbokani (suspended) in Bulgaria. And a substitute bench barely four field players and two keepers strong. Corona made the already thin European flush awfully thin. Deep in rush no Ampomah, but Benavente. “Because he was familiar with a role as second striker at Charleroi,” Leko explained his choice shortly before kick-off.

Energetic Juklerod

A tip outdoors wouldn’t be a bad thing under the circumstances. You think, look the cat out of the tree. Nothing turned out to be further from the truth. Antwerp was supreme in the first half hour. Thanks to several stars, but Juklerod as orchestra master. Almost every attack went over the Norwegian left flank. Benavente kicked over, Gerkens did not push the ball convincingly enough into the hands of goalkeeper Iliev. Refaelov also reached the level of his best days. Once without Mbokani, combining with Benavente, we clicked. But just like his teammates, the Israeli forgot to give Antwerp the lead.

Pieter Gerkens scored the tying run.

Photo: BELGA

After half an hour the red and white tsunami had passed, and the Bulgarians crossed the middle line. The Antwerp supporters in front of the tube held their hearts when De Laet unhappily touched the leather in the sixteen with the arm. Referee Reinshreiber did not see a penalty kick in it. The visitors got messier and helped the green shirts into the saddle. Batubinsika, Miyoshi and Hongla all suffered a dangerous loss of possession. Fortunately for them without damage.

Surprising 1-0

In the first minute after the break, the Antwerp nonchalance was punished. Marin was given time and space to kick, and aimed the 1-0 through De Laet’s legs in the bottom corner. For a moment it was all hands on deck, because Cauly immediately aimed in front of it and then also at the bark of Butez.

Antwerp always fell behind in its last three away matches – Sint-Truiden, Kortrijk and Zulte Waregem – after which it still won. So the Bulgars knew what to expect. RAFC again found the acceleration of the match start. Thanks to Gerkens’ shoulder and a quick reaction from the attentive Refaelov, it went from 1-0 to 1-2 in seven minutes.

Prestige match against Tottenham

Ampomah had already come to replace the tired Benavente by then, and Buta also made his comeback after more than two months of inactivity. The fact that it ultimately stayed at 1-2 was biased. Ampomah forced numerous corners, Miyoshi stranded with a volley on the goalkeeper and Gerkens saw his header burst on the crossbar. Not a third hit like that, but three earned points. Next Thursday, the great Tottenham will visit and the first place is at stake. The Spurs convincingly beat the Austrian LASK last night.

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