The Belgian Pro League season came to a rip-roaring conclusion this weekend as a trio of teams at the top of the table all managed to get one hand on the trophy during the dying minutes of the 2022-23 campaign.
The 34-game Pro League regular season came to an end last month with Racing Genk in first place, narrowly above Union St.-Gilloise on goal difference, who in turn were three points ahead of third-placed Antwerp.
The trio were then joined in the title playoffs (which were first introduced for the 2009-10 season) by Club Brugge who finished the regular season in fourth, 13 points behind Antwerp in third and yet still with a chance to emerge as champions.
After five playoff games already (facing each other twice, both home and away), Sunday was the final day of action with Antwerp (46) and Union St.-Gilloise (46) level at the top of the mini-league, one point above Genk in third (45) and Brugge out of the running in fourth (33.)
In the end, Antwerp drew 2-2 with Genk to seal the 2022-23 Pro League title in stunning fashion, while Union lost 3-1 to Club Brugge.
But as the final matchday progressed, goals began to fly in and the two scorelines fluctuated, the destination of the title chopped and changed between three clubs within five minutes right at the end of the campaign.
Here’s how things played out.
45 mins: Genk 1-0 Antwerp (Toluwalase Arokodare)
It took a while, but things were finally put in motion when Arokodare scored the first goal of the day, putting Genk ahead on the stroke of half-time and effectively sending them clear at the top of the table.
— Pro League (@ProLeagueBE) June 4, 2023
46 mins: Union St.-Gilloise 1-0 Club Brugge (Simon Adingra)
Immediately after the break, Adingra scored against a Brugge side with nothing to play for with a goal that saw Union leapfrog back to the summit.
58 mins: Genk 1-1 Antwerp (Gyrano Kerk)
Antwerp scored their first goal of the afternoon just before the hour mark via a Kerk equaliser. However, Antwerp still needed another goal if they were to usurp leaders Union in the table.
75 mins: Genk 2-1 Antwerp (Bryan Heynen)
Genk threw a spanner in the works when Heynen nudged them back ahead and back into second place, one point behind leaders Union.
89 mins: Union St.-Gilloise 1-1 Club Brugge (Shion Homma)
The cracks began to show for Union, who let their lead slip against Brugge in the 89th minute to once again propel Genk into the top spot.
90+3 mins: Union St.-Gilloise 1-2 Club Brugge (Noa Lang)
With Genk top of the league as things stood, Union’s championship aspirations went up in smoke as their disastrous late capitulation was compounded by another stoppage-time goal for Brugge.
90+4 mins: Genk 2-2 Antwerp (Toby Alderweireld)
Desperately chasing a late goal, Antwerp’s saviour came in the form of veteran defender Alderweireld, who lashed in a brilliant strike from 20 yards to score an equaliser that rocketed his side up into first place for the first time.
90+10 mins: Union St.-Gilloise 1-3 Club Brugge (Cisse Sandra)
Union shipped another late goal to fully obliterate their challenge.
Antwerp delivered a first Pro League title since 1957, with Antwerp-born Alderweireld — who only returned to his hometown last summer — writing his name into folklore forever more.
FINAL WHISTLE EMOTIONS 🔥😍 pic.twitter.com/t2y5PmYmyL
— Royal Antwerp FC (@official_rafc) June 4, 2023
1. Antwerp – 47
2. Union St.-Gilloise – 46
3. Genk – 46
4. Club Brugge – 36
Antwerp’s Belgian title changes hands 3 times in 5 minutes