Gent’s trainer, Hein Vanhazenbroeck, gave an exclusive interview to the foreign press just after the game, laughing at us: ‘Don’t tell your Belgian colleagues, that mathematically we are 85 percent sure to be Champions if Anderlecht draws (they did , i.d.) but I still won’t call us favorites for the premiership’. The fixture was set clear just before the game by former star goalkeeper and now trainer of Club Brugge: ‘We lose at home to Gent in what is for them the game of the season and it is over, and for this crucial game I will miss Israeli Lior (Refaelov i.e.)’
It was truly the game of the season. Last Wednesday, Lior Refaelov said in an interview with me about missing the ‘Israeli derby’ between Club Brugge and Aa Gent because of his yellow card suspension: ‘We are playing the whole season in just one game and I will not be able to play, that’s what’s bothering me not against who I play’. And it turned out to be true as Spanish ex-Barcelona player Victor Vasquez was not decisive enough without Refaelov at his side and the same went for the Dutch goalgetter Ruud Vormer. Brugge was tired, they played 61 games this season up until now and with exception of only the British Premier League, no other team in Europe had that busy a schedule.
The game began with a furious pace from Bruges, but on the first counter attack by Gent they took a lead in the 5th minute making 0-1 by Lasse Nielsen. Suddenly there were two teams on the pitch. In a nice first half in front of 28,000 fans there were many attacks by both sides. There was also a very emotional moment at the 14th minute where the crowd remembered no. 14 of Beerschot, Tim Nicot who was the second player to die on the football pitch from a heart attack over the past two weeks. On April 30th Lokeren’s Gregory Mertens also passed away due to a heart attack in this strange and dramatic phenomenon. In the 38th minute when most people went out for a beer, south-american winger Jose Izquierdo gave an impressive effort and allowed Ruud Vormer an easy finish to level the score.
After only 5 minutes of play in the second half Brecht Dejaeghere shot the ball from some twenty meters out and the sphere took a very strange curve to give the visitors a lead, 1-2. Mathew Ryan the excellent Australian goalie and winner of the Asian cup last month was beaten yet again. Bruges then stormed forward and Rami Gershon needed to play a central role and intervene three times slightly injuring himself that lay him down on the mat. After a few minutes he but stood up to thousands of cheers and took his place as a libero. After some continued pressure, the Black Blues were rewarded by a close volley again from Vormer which knotted up the score.
Benito Raman, who played with Israelis Roi Dayan and Dor Malul in Beerschot two years ago rebounded his own shot with a header five minutes to time, shocking the crowd and lowering the volume of the boiling ‘Jan Breydel’ Stadium from ten to one. A last gasp effort from Refaelov’s attacking mates was saved by goalkeeper Matz Sels, and the city of Gent could begin organizing an enormous party in the beautiful new Ghelamco Arena for this coming Thursday. We can go onto the ‘Shavuot’ holiday with the knowledge that we will probably have an Israeli Champion in Europe, however it will not be Lior Refaelov despite his fabulous season, but Rami Gershon a thorougly Jewish ‘catenaccio’ with the number 55.
Aaron Malinsky, for the ‘SportsRabbi’, Belgium.