Antwerp could already smell the Conference League playoffs thanks to the victory it was dreaming of at Lillstrom. The Norwegians offered more resistance than the score would suggest, but two goals from Radja Nainggolan made the difference.
Lillstrom – Antwerp in a nutshell:
- key moment: After a late equalizer shortly before the break, Lillestrøm emerges from the dressing room with confidence. Ibrahimage even quickly forces Botiz to make a great save, but right after that, the home team hit the ball with his foot. The loss of the ball by Peterson leads to the score 1-2 from Nainggolan.
- man of the match: Radja Nainggolan certainly didn’t play his best game and was even on the grounds of a 1-1 draw with an accidental loss of the ball, but more than corrected that mistake with two important goals. The first was an easy internal faucet, the second was a gem.
- noticeable: The Antwerp defense, with Toby Alderweireld, has been home to four clean sheets in several official matches this season. Tonight, without Toby Alderweireld, the series ended without any goals against him.
Antwerp forget to exploit mastery
With goals scored after barely 4 minutes 41 seconds, the match could not have started much better for Antwerp. Miyoshi drew a corner kick to Almeida’s header, which left goalkeeper Christiansen without a chance with a good header.
The tune is set instantly: a quiet mastery of Antwerp and a frantic Lillestrøm running after the ball. The home team didn’t have much or nothing to say at home, and the question of how Antwerp would perform to defend unanswered Alderweireld remained unanswered for a long time.
But despite the apparent dominance, Antwerp could no longer cause any danger after the early target, there was no doubt in the depth. And so he called visitors to disaster and even reached out to Lillstrom. After Nainggolan lost the ball, a pass from Kairinen came with some luck to Knudsen, who brought the home team side by side just before the break.
Nainggolan pushes Lillestrøm to the exit
Shortly after the break, Lillestrøm continued his momentum. Botiz had to bend when he hit Ibrahimage from an acute angle after a gentle offside. The momentum seemed to be for the hosts until Peterson clumsily handed the ball to Miyoshi. Balikuisha cleverly passed a low Japanese cross and Nainggolan managed to score easily from close range.
The start of the second half was a copy of the first with a quick goal from Antwerp after just over 4 minutes. Unfortunately, the sequel also followed a similar path. Spurza commentator Tom Bodwell summed it up: “We’re looking at the big thing. Little has happened, a little bit in the city image.”
However, fifteen minutes before the end, it was the Antwerp shock. After Miyoshi’s poor defense, Fredjohnson had an excellent opportunity to make it 2-2 after a pass from Hyland, but sent the ball wide.
Antwerp survived, but shortly before the end of the match Nainggolan decided for his second match of the evening. From Al Hilal, he shot the ball gently past Christiansen into the goal. 1-3 Antwerp could return to Bosuil with an excellent starting position.
Nainggolan: “Now finish in a controlled manner at home and save strength”
- Radja Nainggolan: “We dominated the match from the first minute to the last minute today. The score came 1-1 after a little technical error by me. But if you call yourself a great team, you can still avoid that goal. There were 4 more goals” About 5 players could have prevented This goal from the fall, these are small mistakes we have to learn from, but I corrected them with two goals, this is the most important for me, 1-3 was a good result and a good starting position. We must now finish it on our soil in a controlled manner and save as much energy as possible, because busy weeks are coming. We played very mature, and Lillestrøm could only hurt us if we stupidly lost the ball. That early Almeida goal was good, I thought we could go for 0 – 2. But Lillestrøm was way too low, and we had to wait for them to put some pressure on as the host side, until we found space to set up their counter-attacks. We played it in the second half.”
- Mark van Bommel (Antwerp coach): “That’s a good result. Almeida’s early goal helped us, but I thought we made unnecessary mistakes. That opponent gave a feeling that there was still something to win. They let us make the match and wait for a response.” If we gave the wrong pass, there were dangerous moments. We also conceded that goal just before the end of the first half. It should be removed. In the second half we scored two beautiful goals and then got a deserved victory here. In general, I am very satisfied with the team, except for those little things. But this is a process, which cannot be bypassed at once. We also have a number of substitutions in every game, but they are always handled well. If someone is in pain, we can give them relief. We’ll have to wait and see if Alderweireld will be there again on Sunday.”
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