The group stage of the Champions League will only have one Belgian participant this season. A battered AA Gent did not make it against Dynamo Kiev. After the 1-2 in the first leg, it became 3-0 in Kiev.
Because Depoitre and Bukari squandered a turning point. Because it keeps rattling defensively. And because the spilling of opportunities has become so ridiculous that there seems to be a curse. Jess Thorup’s curse?
As expected, it has become Europa League. Friday knows where AA Gent will be flying to in the coming months for what will be a hellish rollercoaster towards the end of the year. Apart from an international break at the beginning of November, the Buffalos will play European every week from 22 October.
Wim De Decker must hope that he will have his team in order by then. His observation from the past few weeks that there is hardly any time left to train much between matches remains. And above all he will have to pray that he will empty the infirmary soon. A look at the bench spoke volumes: Kums, Mohammadi, Godeau, Botaka, Marreh, Coosemans and the 18-year-old Matisse Samoise, in the end even on the field as a debutant.
If AA Gent started the first leg hesitantly, even fearful according to some, De Decker brought an ultra-offensive team to the kick-off for the return. Still without Kums and Chakvetadze – the latter not even sitting on the bench, any more than Arslanagic – but with all the available attacking powers on the field. Depoitre plus a roving Kleindienst, and on the flanks Niangbo and Bukari. The other approach, however, had the same result as in the first leg: a goal against after barely nine minutes. Supryaha dived into the box and put back from the back line, Buyalskyi cut the 1-0 past Roef. Great goal, but especially dramatic defense. Again, this time from Ngadeu who just let the attacker walk.
The score does not suggest it, but AA Gent could have shaken Dynamo. Then we could have written a sincere sorry after we joked about the Ghent qualifying opportunities, something that was not appreciated by everyone. Sorry, but this Gent keeps waddling through the season like the dull, drunken version of that twinkling team from last season. Unrecognizable. Because Shaparaneko hit the post and a 1-0 score actually didn’t change the assignment – scoring twice – the mental spring did not break immediately. By putting high pressure, this Dynamo also proved to be tempting to make mistakes. So when Zabarnyi lost the ball, Depoitre suddenly found himself in the box. But instead of printing himself, he put the ball aside to Bukari. He needed a check too much and decided on Buschchan. What always resulted in a goal and the hope for more, became yet another example of how this team continues to struggle with itself. See also a missed opportunity from Niangbo.
Now follows a passage that also evokes a déjà-vu. Because once again it was up to Igor Plastun to further mess up his team. Unwanted and unfortunate this time, he headed a cross against his own hand, after Nurio was caught at speed by Rodrigues. A penalty kick that was actually not there, but De Pena converted it: 2-0. But it got even more painful.
Thanks to the dubious performance of Polish referee Marciniak, known for giving easy cards and penalties. A second penalty kick after Ngadeu touched Supryaha’s foot was canceled by the VAR for offside. Immediately after the break, the Pole pointed to the spot for the third time. Nurio and Supryaha hung together for a moment, but it was the fall of the Ukrainian that convinced the Pole. Rodrigues aimed the 3-0 past Roef.
Although De Decker started to allow players to rest, Ghent still had to score. Bad luck continues to haunt the Buffalos. Kleindienst headed at Buschchan, Plastun aimed the second chance at his feet. When the unfortunate defender had another setback a little later, Plastun looked at the skies of his Kiev in despair. In the end there was even a roar through the empty Olimpiyskyi stadium when Kleindienst and Nurio did not get a triple chance in goal from close range. The Ukrainians in the stadium laughed at so much malheur, especially when Plastun saw the 3-1 rejected for offside.
AA Gent must gradually hope for a divine intervention because all that disaster is starting to take on the proportions of a curse. Jess Thorup’s curse? This Ghent certainly had no business in the Champions League.
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