Belgian First Division wrap: Standard keep pace with leaders

Standard Liege kept touch with Belgian First Division leaders Anderlecht on Saturday, while Charleroi appear set for automatic relegation.Standard took just five minutes to silence the home support at Jules Ottenstadion in Ghent, with Moroccan midfielder Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez breaking the deadlock.

His strike was cancelled out by veteran Gent midfielder Bernd Thijs, but striker Mohammed Tchite had the visitors back in front by the 24th minute and Belgium international Axel Witsel rounded out the 3-1 scoreline in first-half stoppage time.

The win puts Liege third on the Championship Playoff table and within two points of Anderlecht, while Gent sink to fifth and out of the European competition places.

In the Europa League Playoff, Mechelen missed a chance to edge closer to a European berth when they were held to a 0-0 stalemate at home by Cercle Brugge.

Lierse pulled within one point of Mechelen at the top of Group A with a 2-1 win at Sint-Truiden, with Mohammed El-Gabas and Victor Bernardez scoring the decisive goals for the winners in three late first-half minutes.

In Group B, Westerlo and Germinal could not be split in a 3-3 result at the latter’s Olympisch Stadion in Antwerp, ensuring they remain equal on points atop Group B.

Zulte Waregem stay in touch with the duo courtesy of a 1-0 win at Kortrijk, with 20-year-old striker Jens Naessens getting the decisive goal.

Group winners will meet for the right to take on the fourth-ranked side from the Championship playoff, with a Europa League place at stake.

At the other end of the table, RC Charleroi’s 27-year spell in the top flight appears destined to come to an end after they lost 4-2 away to Eupen in the third game of the Playoff III series.

A double from on-loan Argentine striker Pablo Chavarria was crucial for the winners, who now hold a six-point advantage over Charleroi with two games remaining.

The winner of the Playoff III will take on teams ranked second to fifth in the Belgian Second Division for a spot in the top flight next season, with the loser automatically relegated.