One match is not the other. As strong Union showed up against Rangers, so weak was the performance on the field of KV Mechelen. Under the impulse of captain Schoofs, an eager home team took the lead just before half-time. Barely fifteen minutes into the second half, the game was completely over after an own goal by Lazare and a goal by Ngoy. Union will have to do something different on Tuesday.
Four days after the 2-0 stunt win against Rangers in the second preliminary round of the Champions League, Union had to get back to work. The troubled KV Mechelen waited in the AFAS stadium in Mechelen, which had missed its start with zero out of six. Before kick-off, cult hero and ex-KV Mechelen player Arjan Swinkels was waved goodbye. Karel Geraerts may not like to admit it, but during the line-up you clearly noticed that Felice Mazzu’s successor had rotated with a view to Tuesday’s return at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow. Three players made way: Adingra, Lynen and Sykes. In their place came Boone, Puertas and Zyani. Hairemans, Van Hecke and Van Hoorenbeeck were given a starting place at the home team. Sved was injured and Vanlerberghe dropped out sick.
KV Mechelen immediately asserted itself. It played with healthy aggression, quickly disrupted and did not allow Union a day off. In the tenth minute, Schoofs Van Der Heyden passed too easily, but the captain of Malinois found Moris on his way. On the left wing, a hard-working Storm made some dangerous dribbles and his direct opponent quickly received a yellow card from debutant Boone for a mistake on the left wing attacker of KV Mechelen. Union didn’t give in in the opening quarter, collapsed way too much and it seemed as if most players were already thinking about Tuesday’s game. It was only after half an hour before Coucke had to roll up his sleeves for a shot by Vanzeir that lacked power. KV kept pushing and Moris reacted attentively to an attempt at Hairemans’ short corner. Still, the home side was rewarded for such diligence. Schoofs advanced and his shot went through the foot of the unlucky Boone with a lob over Moris in goal. On the other side, a too surprised Ziani kicked right over.
Geraerts left Boone in the dressing room after the break. It didn’t bring much improvement. Hairemans curled a free kick from the right in front of goal and the ball disappeared into the nets through Lazare’s crown. An own goal: that too! Just before one o’clock, Union was in full swing. After Lazare lost the ball, Hairemans served Ngoy with a nice pass. He cut nicely inside and kicked in the left corner. Match played. Geraerts realized that the match was over and immediately took three strong players to the side: captain Teuma, Vanzeir and Lazare. It’s a matter of saving energy … or reflecting. Because with this mentality Tuesday will be trembling and trembling on Scottish soil. Fifteen minutes before the end, Geraerts had used up all his substitutions.
KV Mechelen controlled the match and the vice-champion wanted to limit further damage. Yet it was Union that was two more dangerous. Coucke whipped Salah’s shot out of his goal and another substitute Dony saw his blast shattered against the crossbar. Even the savior of honour was not awarded to the inhabitants of Brussels.
KV MECHELEN (4-2-1-3): Coucke – Walsh, Peyre, Van Hoorenbeeck, Bolingoli (89′ Swers)– Van Hecke (78′ Raemaekers), Lavalée – Schoofs – Hairemans (78′ Hernandez), Storm (89′ Oum Gouet), Ngoy (84′ Engvall) .
UNION (3-5-2): Moris – Boone (46′ Sykes), Burgess, Van Der Heyden – Nieuwkoop (74′ Dony), Amani (62′ El Azzouzi), Teuma (62′ Lynen), Puertas, Lapoussin – Vanzeir (62′ Salah), Ziani .
GOALS: 44′ Schoofs 1-0, 51′ Lazare (owngoal) 2-0, 59′ Ngoy (Hairemans) 3-0.
PENALTY KICKS: No.
YELLOW CARDS: 11′ Boone, 56′ Ziani, 58′ Teuma, 60′ Lavalée, 65′ Schoofs, 88′ Lapoussin, 90’+2′ Puertas.
RED CARDS: No.