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Strong start of 2024 for Ghent, overpowering Kortrijk

Compared to the party visiting Cercle Brugge, interim coach Akpala brought in three new forces: Mehssatou, Audoor and Kadri replaced Bruno, De Neve and the suspended El Idrissy. For the Buffaloes, Torunarigha – fit again – and Tissoudali kicked off, causing Lagae and Orban to move to the bench. Nurio and Depoitre took part in the warm-up, but ultimately followed the last game of 2023 in the stands.

The home team could use a boost after the recent zero out of nine and after five minutes Davies seemed to be on his way to giving Veekaa the lead, but after he rounded Roef, Watanabe was ultimately able to calmly save the Welshman’s attempt. That miss would soon be painful for Kortrijk because Vandenberghe was unable to catch the ball after a header from De Sart on a corner kick from Ghent. Tissoudali was quick to score his eighth league goal.

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Just like last week against OH Leuven, Ghent had an early bonus. The Buffaloes pushed the accelerator a little further, but Cuypers could not immediately take advantage of the hesitations in the Kortrijk defense. The home players did not exude confidence and that early upset did not in the least improve things. They were therefore less and less successful in turning up near Roef.

On the other side, the Buffaloes were also regularly caught with a sloppy pass and so the game lost some quality after the promising opening quarter. The Ghent dominance remained high, but both Fofana and Roef still seemed to make it a bit exciting. After Fofana lost the ball, Watanabe was just able to hold off the onrushing Davies, but with that corner kick Roef promptly surrendered the ball and an attentive De Sart was needed to turn Sissako’s attempt in front of the line.

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Vanhaezebrouck called his troops to order and Cuypers and Tissoudali immediately created Ghent’s goal threat, but the home players had also taken courage from those pressing phases. As a result, the Ghent defense certainly did not experience a carefree afternoon in Kortrijk. In the meantime, Fofana and Cuypers still had opportunities to decide the game before half-time, but their sights were not focused, so the score was ‘only’ 0-1 halfway through.

Immediately after the break, the Buffalos – massively encouraged by the almost 900 Ghent fans who traveled with them – immediately went on the attack again. They quickly caused problems for the local defense, but after a nice individual action Tissoudali kicked the ball a little too rashly. A little later he scored when Vandenberghe was unable to control a free kick from De Sart and, just like in the first half, Tissoudali poked the ball into the net (0-2).

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Ghent now really had a taste for it and, under the impetus of the busy Tissoudali and the ever-quick Fofana, they looked for the final shot for a dramatically weak home team that after the break proved to be no match for Ghent tactically, technically and physically. Nothing worked anymore at Kortrijk and so we saw even more one-way football. The home fans were very quiet, the Ghent fans were already throwing a big party.

Akpala certainly tried to get his team back on track. Malinov, De Neve and Avenatti came into action, but they too could not silence the Ghent attack machine. Illustrative: Vanhaezebrouck could afford to let his substitutes warm up until the final quarter without actually calling on them.

In the end, it was only in the 78th minute that he brought Orban, Gerkens and Brown for Cuypers, Hong and Fofana. A small warm-up for the three substitutes who can count on more playing opportunities after the winter break when the Buffaloes have to miss star Tissoudali and other “Hongis” due to international commitments. At Kortrijk, the concerns are of a different order, but no less serious. Without a significant injection of quality, relegation gradually seems unavoidable.

KV Kortrijk: Vandenberghe, Mampassi, Silva, Radovanovic, Mehssatou, Audoor (59′ Malinov), Kana, Sissako (69′ Avenatti), Kadri, Ojo (69′ De Neve), Davies (82′ Seck).

Ghent: Roef, Kandouss, Watanabe, Torunarigha, Hong (78′ Gerkens), Kums, Samoise, De Sart, Fofana (78′ Brown), Tissoudali, Cuypers (78′ Orban).

Goals: 7′ and 56′ Tissoudali 0-1 and 0-2.

Yellow cards: 36′ Cuypers, 43′ Radovanovic.

Red cards: /

Referee: Simon Bourdeaud’Hui.

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