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AA Gent is with one leg in 1/8th finals of Conference …

It is barely October, but group win and a direct ticket to the last sixteen in the Conference League are already beckoning for AA Gent. A draw in front of the home crowd against Partizan in two weeks will suffice, if there are no slips against Anorthosis or Flora. “But I’m not going to crow victory too soon. It wouldn’t be the first time a team loses first and then wins. I can see it in two games. We now have to ensure that they do not win with us”, Hein Vanhaezebrouck does not count himself rich yet.

His coach was not surprised that Kums scored with the head on a fine pass from Samoise. “I’ve known Sven for a long time, haven’t I. I was surprised he showed up right after he took a corner. But I was not surprised with that goal. I can name almost ten that I wasn’t sure anything would happen to. But Sven can head well.”

Still, Kums said: “I think it’s only the second header goal in my career. The rehearsed corner went wrong and I followed to goal. More important was the win. We have nine out of nine. We can go to the match against Genk with confidence.”

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As difficult as the Buffalos achieve results in the competition, they waltz through Europe. Not that this Partizan turned out to be of the same caliber as AA Gent. If Markovic and Obradovic still had a bone to pick with Vanhaezebrouck, their former trainer at Anderlecht, then it was probably a soft boil. Markovic seemed to have been eating too much chocolate eggs. The only real chance for Partizan before half time did not come by chance after a mistake in the back of AA Gent. A sloppy Okumu lost the ball, after which the otherwise strong Ngadeu missed his interception. Ricardo was able to continue, but he shot past.

No penalty

And found a satisfied Vanhaezebrouck: “We should have received a penalty after five minutes.” Referee Madden, however, gave Odjidja a yellow card because he hit the ground too flashy after light contact with Obradovic. Strict, because there was contact, but a penalty? “Too bad there is no VAR. Well, this is only the third competition in Europe, and therefore too small for a VAR”, said Vanhaezebrouck. It mortgaged Odjidja’s match. Even before the break Vujasic tried to sell Odjidja a second yellow card. Madden kept his cards in his pocket. Partizan had to look for a clever trick. AA Gent was boss.

Bolat redt

Chakvetadze and Odjidja in support of Depoitre, that is ball strength and now and then a clever idea. The run with which Chakvetadze presented Depoitre’s best chance of the first half to Ghent, seemed like a flash from a better past. Only this is October 2021, a month in which Depoitre is finishing with difficulty. He put Chak’s pass over.

The home team came out of the dressing room with fresh courage, resulting in a good chance for Natcho at the near post. But it was Chakvetadze who brought Odjidja into the box. His shot after a clever drag movement stranded on the fists of goalkeeper Popovic. An important opportunity, because from the corner that followed, Kums would eventually score. It should have been 0-2 straight away, but goalkeeper Popovic saved a too central free kick from Odjidja and a shot from Nurio.

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Finishing chances, but also playing counters, AA Gent didn’t do that. It was even Bolat who saved the furniture in Partizan’s nervous final offensive and underlined that he is having a flawless season. “But all in all, we don’t give away much on a difficult field, on a difficult displacement,” said Kums. “We have grown in that. We’ve been giving away fewer opportunities in recent weeks.”

If there is a win on Sunday in Genk, that would only be the first series of three consecutive victories this season for AA Gent. Just to say that this profit also says nothing about what will follow.

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