KAA Gent have won the Belgian title for the first time in their 115-year history, their 2-0 victory over R. Standard de Liège giving them the chance of a UEFA Champions League debut.
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KAA Gent are champions of Belgium for the first time in their 115-year history after a 2-0 home success against R. Standard de Liège gave them the title with a match to spare.
Gent began the evening four points ahead of RSC Anderlecht – who could only draw at KV Kortrijk tonight – and five clear of Club Brugge KV, winners at R. Charleroi SC. And in front of a sell-out 20,000 crowd at their stadium, opened in 2013, Gent got the victory they needed through an 18th-minute goal by captain Sven Kums and a penalty early in the second half from Renato Neto after Moses Simon had been brought down.
Runners-up in 1955 and 2010, Gent had trailed Club Brugge by four points at the end of the 30-game regular season. But for the ten-round top-six play-off the teams' points' tallies to date were halved, and while Belgian Cup winners Club Brugge have lost four times since, Gent suffered just one play-off defeat.
"When I stood in this stadium for the first time, I thought: 'Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could make it explode here,'" said coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck. "And we cannot do better than this to make that happen. This city has been waiting for the title for such a long time. We have always believed we were capable of doing something, but only when we were victorious at Anderlecht on the last day of the regular season did we feel the championship was possible."
Kums added: "This is my first goal of the season – and I think it was an important one. We maybe did not expect this to happen at the start of the season but we have played the best football. I think we are deserved champions."
Gent's sole previous experience of the UEFA Champions League was a 6-1 aggregate third qualifying round loss to an Andriy Shevchenko-inspired FC Dynamo Kyiv in 2010/11. They are now set for an automatic group stage place in 2015/16 while ahead of Sunday's final matches, Anderlecht lead Club Brugge by a point in the race for a third qualifying round berth.