Title thriller in Belgium: Van Bommel leads Antwerp to their first championship title since 1957

Status: 05.06.2023 10:44 a.m

Mark van Bommel leads Antwerp to a league and cup double. The league title is decided by a last-minute goal.

In the first football championship for Royal Antwerp in 66 years, Mark van Bommel showed unexpected sprint qualities. After the unbelievable championship drama and the goal that decided the title to make it 2-2 in the fourth minute of added time at KRC Genk, the former Bayern star started to celebrate half the field.

“Then you really don’t know what you’re doing anymore. You run and they jump around your neck. Only then did I realize that I had run onto the field,” reported the 46-year-old Dutchman, who even led Antwerp to the double : “It’s my best moment on Belgian soil. In Belgium I’ve only managed to get the double seven times. That’s extraordinary.”

Showdown on the last matchday

After Antwerp missed the chance to win the early championship in their own stadium last week, they went into a three-way showdown on Sunday with Union Saint-Gilloise (46) and Genk (45) tied on points.

Saint-Gilloise looked like the champions just before the end of the game. However, the team from the Brussels suburb only conceded a 1-1 draw against Club Brugge in the 90th minute and ultimately lost 3-1. Genk was now ahead in the virtual table thanks to a 2-1 lead in a duel with Antwerp. But then came the 94th minute and captain Toby Alderweireld’s big performance: With a perfect long-range shot into the top left corner, the 34-year-old defender, born in Antwerp, scored the acclaimed goal to make it 2-2 – Antwerp won their first championship since 1957 one point ahead of Genk and Saint-Gilloise.

“We trained for that, but that’s how it ends, no,” said van Bommel, shaking his head: “We’re playing away for the title and our own stadium is sold out. That’s only possible in Antwerp.” At the end of April, Antwerp beat KV Mechelen 2-0 in the cup final.

At his last coaching station in the Bundesliga, van Bommel was fired at VfL Wolfsburg in October 2021 after just 115 days in office. In Antwerp, the former Dutch international took over at the end of May 2022.


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