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Season review: Belgium

Published: Friday 6 June 2014, 8.45CET
RSC Anderlecht, ten points adrift of top spot at the end of the regular campaign, celebrated their 33rd Belgian title while KSC Lokeren OV won the cup for the second time in three seasons.
by Berend Scholten
Season review: Belgium
Anthony Vanden Borre celebrates Anderlecht's title success ©AFP
Published: Friday 6 June 2014, 8.45CET

Season review: Belgium

RSC Anderlecht, ten points adrift of top spot at the end of the regular campaign, celebrated their 33rd Belgian title while KSC Lokeren OV won the cup for the second time in three seasons.

Ten points off the pace going into the title play-offs between the top six teams, RSC Anderlecht defied the odds to win the Eerste Klasse for the third consecutive campaign, vindicating their decision to change coach in the spring. Cup honours went to KSC Lokeren OV who celebrated success in the competition for the second time in three seasons.

Champions: RSC Anderlecht
Anderlecht lost experienced Lucas Biglia, Dieudonné Mbokani, Tom De Sutter and Milan Jovanović last summer and were ten points behind leaders R. Standard de Liège when the regular season ended after 30 matchdays. Les Mauves – who in March replaced coach John van den Brom with his assistant Besnik Hasi – came into their own in the play-offs, in which points' totals are halved. They won their last five games, securing the championship on the last day after a 3-1 home victory over Lokeren.

Cup final: KSC Lokeren OV 1-0 SV Zulte Waregem
Lokeren repeated the scoreline from their 2012 cup decider against KV Kortrijk, Peter Maes's men landing the decisive blow when defender Alexander Scholz headed in from a corner after 57 minutes. Zulte Waregem had enjoyed the best chances in the first period, with Idrissa Sylla hitting a post early on.

European places*
RSC Anderlecht – UEFA Champions League group stage
R. Standard de Liège – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
KSC Lokeren OV – UEFA Europa League play-offs
Club Brugge KV – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
SV Zulte Waregem – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
*subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Thorgan Hazard (SV Zulte Waregem)
Operating on the left wing, the brother of Eden Hazard was a key figure in Zulte Waregem's fine 2012/13 campaign, when the side were in contention for the title until the last day. This term the on-loan Chelsea FC and former RC Lens player, 21, switched inside to a playmaking role, scoring 14 league goals and being instrumental in the West Flanders team reaching the cup final.

One to watch: Michy Batshuayi (R. Standard de Liège)
The 20-year-old striker of Congolese descent registered a career best 21 top-flight goals, a haul second only to Lokeren's Hamdi Harbaoui in 2013/14. The right-footed forward, voted the best player of African heritage in Belgium, almost doubled his goal output from last season and notched his first Eerste Klasse hat-trick in a 4-2 triumph at KV Oostende in September.

Surprise package: KV Oostende
Oostende, in only their fifth top-flight campaign and first since 2004/05, comfortably survived. They ended the regular season in ninth place and then won their four-team play-off section involving KAA Gent, K. Lierse SK and Waasland-Beveren. However, their inability to fulfil the necessary demands for a European licence meant they could not contest a UEFA Europa League play-off against the side finishing fourth overall, Zulte Waregem.

Leading scorer: Hamdi Harbaoui, KSC Lokeren OV (22)

Relegated: RAEC Mons, OH Leuven

Promoted: KVC Westerlo, Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz

Number: 33
Anderlecht's record total of Belgian titles, 20 more than the next most decorated team, Club Brugge.

Quote
"This is also John's title."
Bensik Hasi after steering Anderlecht to the top of the table. The Brussels outfit's former midfielder succeeded Dutchman Van den Brom as coach in March.

Last updated: 06/06/14 8.51CET

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