A second-half double from Hamdi Harbaoui has wrapped up Lokeren’s 4-1 victory over Standard Liege in the Belgian First Division playoffs.
Benjamin Mokulu Tembe led the way for Lokeren, scoring the opening goal before setting up two others as his team claimed their first win of the Belgian championship matches.
Lokeren opened the scoring in the ninth minute at Daknamstadion when Mokulu Tembe finished from close range after Standard’s goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima came off his line but failed to punch a cross clear of his penalty area.
The home side need a bit of fortune to double their lead in the 24th minute with Nill De Pauw’s volley from Mokulu Tembe’s cross deflecting off an opposition defender and into the net.
A brilliant run from Michy Batshuayi set up Standard’s goal just after the half-hour mark as the 19-year-old Belgian striker skipped past a Lokeren defender and then smashed the ball to the back post for Paul-Jose M’Poku to tap in.
But Harbaoui ended Standard’s resistance in the second half, running onto Mokulu Tembe’s through-ball to score in the 70th minute and then taking advantage of a defensive mix-up six minutes later to notch his brace.
Lokeren’s triumph dealt Standard’s title hopes a blow, leaving Liege four points behind leaders Anderlecht having played one more match.
In the Europa League playoffs, Gent remain unbeaten and top of Group A after a 3-0 win over Lierse, while OH Leuven moved into second in Group B, only trailing Sporting Charleroi on goal difference.
In the Group A match, Mons defeated Kortrijk 2-1.
With Charleroi and Waasland-Beveren having played out a 0-0 draw, Leuven moved above the latter into second position in Group B with a 5-1 thumping of Mechelen.
Gambian striker Ibrahima Sawaneh was involved in all five goals for Leuven, scoring twice and setting up the other three as his team came from 1-0 behind at half-time to win at Mechelen’s Argosstadion.
Leuven have joined Charleroi on six points, one ahead of third-placed Waasland-Beveren in the battle for a Europa League berth.
Meanwhile, in the relegation playoffs, Cercle Brugge won their third game in a row, knocking off Beerschot 2-1 to move above their rivals on the two-team table.
Cercle Brugge lead Beerschot nine points to six with one match left in the five-game series to decide which team is relegated to the Belgian Second Division.