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Season review: Belgium

Published: Wednesday 29 June 2011, 9.44CET
Half a point proved the difference in a remarkable campaign for First League winners KRC Genk, who pipped eventual Belgian Cup winners R. Standard de Liège to the title.
by Berend Scholten
Season review: Belgium
Genk celebrate their title success ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 29 June 2011, 9.44CET

Season review: Belgium

Half a point proved the difference in a remarkable campaign for First League winners KRC Genk, who pipped eventual Belgian Cup winners R. Standard de Liège to the title.

KRC Genk secured their third Belgian First League title courtesy of a 1-1 draw against R. Standard de Liège in the final game of the end-of-season play-offs.

Genk finished the regular season second on 64 points, one behind RSC Anderlecht, while Standard amassed 49 points in sixth spot. With points then halved, Genk started the play-offs with 32 while Standard's total was rounded up to 25 on the understanding that they would lose half a point if they finished level with another side. That half-point deduction was triggered as they ended the campaign tied with Genk; Anderlecht threw away their advantage by losing five out of ten play-off fixtures.

Champions: KRC Genk
Eleventh in 2010, coach Franky Vercauteren kept building his side around homegrown talents such as Thibaut Courtois, David Hubert, Kevin De Bruyne, Jelle Vossen and Marvin Ogunjimi. Genk showed impressive maturity to overhaul Anderlecht and then stave off Standard in the play-offs to add to their title triumphs of 1999 and 2002. "We did it the hard way, but in the end we got what we deserved," said Vercauteren.

Cup final: R. Standard de Liège 2-0 KVC Westerlo
Denied the championship on the final day, Standard had cause to celebrate four days later when they overcame Westerlo. Eliaquim Mangala gave Standard a 34th-minute lead when he headed in Steven Defour's corner. Westerlo's hopes of only a second cup triumph evaporated just after the hour when Jelle Van Damme profited from a defensive error to double Standard's advantage via a deflection. It was the Rouches' sixth Belgian Cup, their first since 1993.

European places
KRC Genk – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
R. Standard de Liège – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
RSC Anderlecht – UEFA Europa League play-offs
Club Brugge KV – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
KVC Westerlo – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round

Player of the year: Ivan Perišić (Club Brugge KV)
Club Brugge forward Perišić hailed "a fantastic end to the season" after being voted the outstanding performer by his fellow professionals. The 22-year-old Croatian international's 22 league goals helped earn a summer move to Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund.

One to watch: Romelu Lukaku (RSC Anderlecht)
Still only 18, the powerful striker reinforced his quality having broken through with a bang in 2009/10. Another 16 league goals ensured a host of Europe's marquee clubs continue to keep tabs on him.

Surprise package: KVC Westerlo
A fine end to the season helped Westerlo finish eighth in the regular season under the command of Jan Ceulemans, Belgium's most-capped player. They were defeated in the Belgian Cup final but nevertheless earn a berth in next season's UEFA Europa League, their first European involvement since 2001/02.

Number: 0.5
The points difference between champions Genk and runners-up Standard, who missed out after their end-of-season tally was rounded up on the understanding that half a point would be deducted should they finish the play-offs tied with another team.

Leading scorer: Ivan Perišić (Club Brugge KV) 22

Relegated: KAS Eupen, R. Charleroi SC

Promoted: OH Leuven, RAEC Mons

Quote
"My childhood dream came true; we are champions. Now there is no more time for dreaming I'm afraid; it is time to celebrate. They will not see me at home for a couple of days."
Genk's Jelle Vossen after winning the title

Last updated: 08/07/11 16.58CET

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