Standard bag champions after 25 years

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Standard beat two-time defending champions 2-0 on Sunday

21 April 2008

BELGIUM – For the first time in 25 years, Standard de Liége have won the Belgian championship, beating two-time defending champions Anderlecht 2-0.

Football season is not yet over, but Standard have an insurmountable lead.

Before Sunday's match, Standard and Anderlecht knew what was at stake.

A win against Anderlecht would give Standard a 10 point lead over Anderlecht and FC Brugge with only three matches left to play- an insurmountable lead to win the championships.

The man of the match was Dieumerci Mbokani who scored both goals for Standard. Both goals fell in the second half: in the 54th and 75th minutes. Standard took the title at home before a jubilant crowd of supporters.

Prime Minister Yves Leterme was among the 30,000 fans in the stands celebrating the title.

Steven Defour honoured as most valuable player
Standard took the title with a young team led by 20-year-old playmaker Steven Defour and anchored in defence by U.S. international Oguchi Onyewu.

Ahead of the kick-off, Zinedine Zidane of France presented Steven Defour (photo) with the Gouden Schoen trophy for being the league's most valuable player.

The award was given in January but the presentation on Sunday was symbolic.

"We were the best all through the season," Defour said. "Let's party now."

The Belgian newspapers were united in conceding the well-deserved victory to Standard. Many experts say Standard has the best defence in the league and the second-most prolific attack, led by Serb Milan Jovanovic.

It was a beaming moment for coach Michel Preud'homme, who was goalkeeper when the team last won the league in 1983 on Sunday evening. "I just exude happiness. We were not the favourites at the start," he said. "We did it through suffering, willpower and talent."

A jubilant stadium in Liége
This is Standard's ninth title. Anderlecht had won three of the four previous titles but had an awful start to the season.

Anderlecht are tied for second place in the overall standings with Club Brugge at 61 points. Standard have 71 points.

Club Brugge lost costly points on Sunday with a draw against AA Gent. Club Brugge had the opportunity to pull ahead of Anderlecht to be alone in second place and win a ticket to the Champions League.

[ / Expatica]

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