Last week’s first leg of Zulte-Waregem’s qualifiers for the Europa League were a huge surprise.
Having lost 2-5 at home was a heavy blow to take, and coming back from such a score would be virtually impossible for any team.
The start of the game mirrored last week almost up to the minute, with this time Balanovich serving as Zulte’s executioner. Not even ten minutes in, the Belarusian striker shows up in front of Bossut and calmly finishes.
After the first strike, Zulte was allowed the ball, passing it around, barely trying to find an opening.
Any kind of motivation had been drained from them, and it showed on the pitch. Salihorsk had enough, and took another shot at goal, only this time it didn’t go in.
A few minutes before half-time though, Zulte scored the equalizer. Trajkovski broke through on the right side, and crossed it into Sylla, who tapped it past Kotenko. Level scores at the break isn’t too bad a position to be in, and they started having hope. Only a minute later, that hope was ruthlessly crushed when Balanovich waltzed past the defenders and scored his second. Lights out for Zulte.
In the second half, Waregem had possession, but created few chances. Salihorsk retreated, defending their lead without too much trouble. The Belarusians even came close to scoring a third time, but Bossut saved the shot by Kachevski.
With fifteen minutes to go, Sylla restored Zulte’s honour just that little bit by scoring his second of the evening, pulling the scores leveled. Only moments had passed when Guruli tried for goal, but was blocked by the Zulte goalie. Trajkovski nearly scored from a free kick, but Kotenko stood firm.
The whistle blew, and Zulte-Waregem’s short and glory-less European campaign has come to an end.
Now they have to find a way to recover quickly, for this weekend, Club Bruges awaits.