R. Standard de Liège have won their tenth Belgian championship after a first-half penalty from Axel Witsel proved sufficient to defeat RSC Anderlecht in their play-off second leg and complete a 2-1 aggregate win.
More than 30,000 supporters packed into the Stade Maurice Dufrasne for the decider in the first Eerste Klasse play-off in 23 years. The two sides had finished level on points after 34 league matches, but it was Standard who possessed a slight advantage after the first leg courtesy of their away goal in Thursday's 1-1 draw at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.
Although both sides battled for every ball, there were few moments of danger at either end until the 17th minute, when Anderlecht defender Jelle Van Damme headed just over. It was Laszlo Bölöni's side who took the lead, however, after Dieudonné Mbokani was felled by Victor Bernardez inside the area after 37 minutes. Witsel held his nerve to convert the penalty and move the hosts closer to glory.
Standard took control in the second half and Anderlecht were unable to fashion any presentable chances as Ariël Jacobs's charges fell just short. After the final whistle, the UEFA Champions League anthem was played in the stadium, reflecting the fact that Standard will enter the group stage of the competition next season, while Anderlecht will enter in the third qualifying round.
"We deserve this title," stated Standard captain Steven Defour. "The difference between Standard and Anderlecht is quality. This is a huge apotheosis after a very heavy season. We now qualify directly for the Champions League group stage and that is something we are all looking forward to. We will celebrate first – they can sweep me up on Monday morning."
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