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Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Club Brugge wins its 19th Belgian national title after emerging victorious in the three-way battle

By Vaseline May26,2024
Club Brugge wins its 19th Belgian national title after emerging victorious in the three-way battle

BRUSSELS (AP) — Club Brugge won its 19th Belgian league title on a dramatic final day of the season with a 0-0 draw against local rival Cercle Brugge that marked a remarkable turnaround in fortunes during the play-off phase.

Club Brugge came close to losing the title on Sunday when they conceded a goal with about ten minutes to go, but the referee canceled the goal for offside following a VAR check.

For the second year in a row, three teams still had a chance at the title before kick-off: Brugge, Union Saint-Gilloise and Anderlecht.

And for the second year in a row, the Belgian League helicopter with league CEO Lorin Parys on board was put on standby, ready to land at the final whistle to hand over the trophy and medals to Belgium’s new champions.

Brugge won its fourth national title in five years with just one point ahead of Union. Anderlecht finished third, four points behind.

Brugge hosted local rivals Cercle Brugge knowing a draw would be enough, having built a three-point lead from an impressive play-off campaign in which it remained unbeaten under coach Nicky Hayen.

He was appointed as a replacement for Ronny Deila, who was in charge after less than a season, following Club Brugge’s 2–1 defeat to STVV at the end of the regular season in March. At that moment, the team trailed Union by 19 points.

Hayen, in charge of the club’s reserve team, transformed the ailing side into a winning machine as Union and Anderlecht dropped points. The club from the ‘Venice of the North’ then took a decisive step towards the title when it opened a three-point lead at the top with a 1-0 win over Anderlecht last week.

Anderlecht holds the record for the most Belgian national titles, with 34.

The reward for the title winner is direct access to the revamped 36-team Champions League in September. Union will participate in the qualifying rounds in August. Bruges can expect at least 25 million euros from the lucrative group stage.

Union defeated Racing Genk 2-0 and Anderlecht lost 3-1 at last season’s champions Antwerp.

Cercle thought it was on the verge of a major disappointment when Leonardo Lopes grabbed Hugo Siquet’s free-kick. Club Brugge defender Denis Odoi tried to clear the ball on his line, but it was not clear whether it had crossed. Referee Jonathan Lardot eventually disallowed the goal due to offside in the build-up

The Belgian title will be decided via a championship play-off, contested by the top six teams, who will see their total points halved during the regular phase.

Union Saint-Gilloise, who won the Belgian Cup, dominated the regular season but collapsed in the play-offs, missing another chance to win the first Belgian title since 1935. The country won the first of its eleven titles in 1904, playing 60 matches in a row. undefeated from 1933 to 1935, a record that still stands in the football-mad country.

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AP Football: https://apnews.com/Soccer en https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press

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