Champions Club Bugge proved a little bit too strong for Beerschot on Sunday night but our Mannekes deserve credit and applause for their good performance. An early and too softly conceded goal, a couple of obvious fouls in the box, a red card for Fré Frans and two questionable VAR decisisons put the home team on their way to victory. In the second half, and with ten against eleven, Peter Maes' team fought back relentlessly, created a couple of good scoring chances but fell one goal short in the end.

Club Brugge had a flying -and perfect - start with a goal after just four minutes when Balanta headed in a Vormer corner that left our defense standing. Beerschot regrouped and threatened with shots from Holzhauser and Soumaré. When the latter got knocked over by a blatant high tackle from Ricca and everyone expected the Brugge defender to be sent off, VAR decided ref D'Hondt's yellow card sanction sufficed. An incredible decision. Two minutes later the home team doubled the score with a goal from De Ketelaere after a through pass from Lang who looked suspiciously offside.

Beerschot then took control in midfield and when Joren Dom tried his luck from more than 25 yards out and his shot soared into the top corner, we were back in the game. A world class goal it was, a contender for Goal of the Season. Just before half time however it all turned sour again when Fré Frans was sent off with a second yellow card after he clearly held back his opponent on the edge of the box.

In the second half Club Brugge upped the pace, created chances with Vormer shooting wide twice and Lang's effort saved by Vanhamel. Our goakeeper eventually was beaten by a shot from Persyn. Club Brugge 3-1 up; the three points looked in the bag.

But again Beerschot bounced back, with Holzhauser showing his passing skills all over the place and Soumaré putting the Brugge defense under pressure. Coach Peter Maes brought on all his strikers - one of them Lawrence Shankland - and pushed the home team back. Fifteen minutes before the end Jan Van den Bergh cleverly converted a Rapha Holzhauser for the 3-2. New hope in our hearts... but that was it as the equaliser stranded on the legs of the Brugge defenders when Suzuki and Dom tried their luck in the dying seconds.

GOALS: 4' Balanta 1-0, 30' De Ketelaere 2-0, 37' Dom 2-1, 55' Persyn 3-1, 76' Van den Bergh 3-2
CLUB BRUGGE: Mignolet, Mata, Mecheke, Nsoki, Persyn (79' Mitrovic), Ricca (61' Dost, 90' Perez), Balanta, Vormer (90' Rits), Vanaken, De Ketelaere, Lang
BEERSCHOT: Vanhamel, Halaimia, Radic, Frans, Van den Bergh, De Smet, Dom, Coulibaly (85' Sanyang), Soumaré (87' Suzuki), Holzhauser, Noubissi (66' Shankland)
YELLOW CARDS: Ricca, Frans, Nsoki, Coulibaly, De Smet, Holzhauser
RED CARDS: 45' Frans (2x geel), 75' Nsoki (2x geel)

By Danny Geerts
Photos: Jan Mees