Nicolás Frutos hopes he has turned a page for RSC Anderlecht, after his return from injury prompted the end of a grim run for the UEFA Cup contenders.
The Argentinian striker marked his first Belgian league start of the season by scoring his team's second goal in Sunday's 2-1 win against KAA Gent. It was Anderlecht's first Eerste Klasse victory since August. Their match-winner, now fully rehabilitated after heel surgery, said: "I have had some difficult moments, and sometimes wondered whether I would ever come back, but now this page is turned. The most important thing is that I feel good and happy."
The 26-year-old first returned to action on 7 October, coming on for the last half-hour of a game at KSV Roeselare and scoring the last-minute penalty in a 2-2 draw. The following Tuesday, he confirmed his commitment to Anderlecht by signing a new contract keeping him in Brussels until 2012. He now intends to give Frank Vercauteren's team more of a lift on the pitch.
"It is always important to stay positive, whatever happens," said the forward, who joined Anderlecht from CA Independiente in 2005/06. With the Belgian champions having dropped to fourth place in the Eerste Klasse, five points below leaders R. Standard de Liège, Frutos added: "We have done that and that is why we have overcome a difficult period in the dressing room."
With self-belief restored, Anderlecht will attempt to establish themselves in UEFA Cup Group G on Thursday when they host Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC on Matchday 1. With ties against Aalborg BK, Tottenham Hotspur FC and Getafe CF to come, Frutos is relishing the task. "Some great matches await us – especially at home to Tottenham," he said. "That will be a fantastic game, especially for our fans. Our opponents are tough, but I know we can survive and stay in Europe until the spring."
Hapoel have been having an even tougher time in the league than Anderlecht of late and are second from bottom in Israel, without a win in six games. Coach Guy Luzon watched Anderlecht's weekend game, and said: "The match totally depends on Anderlecht who are clearly the favourites and have a team good enough to play in the UEFA Champions League rather than the UEFA Cup. They are just unlucky to be where they are in the league and I reckon they will win the Belgian title at the end of the season."
Additional reporting by Ofer Ronen-Abels
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