The league has finally awoken from its lengthy sleep throughout the winter. We have already seen some teams starting to turn their season around with surprise results, but some things didn’t change since early December.

Below, we will look at some tendencies that can be found across the table. For this, we will use a slightly different article structure to the one used across the season so far.

F91 lose first game and first place

The league resumed on Sunday with a full fixture, although there was one match that started earlier than the others: (now former) leaders F91 Dudelange hosted a free-scoring, Europe-chasing Progrès Niedercorn side in what was regarded as the showpiece event of the weekend.

The game started eventfully, as after some early chances from both sides, Progrès were awarded a penalty for handball in a clumsy situation inside the box. Bilal Hend duly converted the spot kick, and Dudelange tried to go again. But their efforts didn’t prove successful, as Progrès doubled their lead only 7 minutes after their opener. A cross from Luxembourger Yannick Bastos found Antoine Mazure at the back post, the striker reaching the ball with a diving header and thumping it past goalkeeper Lucas Fox!

There were no more goals for the remainder of the first half, but F91 seemed to have their work cut out for them. They did have several chances indeed, the biggest of which missed by João Magno at a practically open goal, but they showed defensive vulnerability against the guests’ counter-attacks. Niedercorn’s high pressing from the front also managed to create confusion among the F91 backline.

The start of the second half complicated matters further for the league leaders who suddenly conceded another two goals in the first nine minutes after the break. Elias Filet found the net first in the 50th minute, with a calm and composed finish in a 1vs1. Only four minutes had passed when Niedercorn got a corner. The subsequent Hend shot was saved by Fox but pushed to the path of Brian Amofa, where the midfielder had an easy finish with the goalkeeper already all but beaten.

The two early goals definitely killed off Dudelange’s comeback hopes and with that, the match soon died down as well. Edis Agović was able to pull one back for F91 with a magnificent long-range effort, but nothing else worked out for the yellows this time. Needless to say, it wasn’t enough to keep Hesper at bay on the league table.

Fola unlucky in a game of two penalties

The winter transfer window is technically over, and Fola have finally announced a new arrival to go with their long list of departures: French striker Kévin Quinol joined the club from the regional leagues of his homeland. He was already counted upon in his team’s attempts to escape the drop zone in the second half of the season, starting with a home encounter against Union Titus Pétange last weekend.

It’s fair to say the new signing brought an instant effect, creating and finishing the first chance of the game all by himself, although eventually missing the target by a small margin. It did look promising, but Fola fans’ enthusiasm was interrupted abruptly by a Union goal from nowhere. Cédric Steinmetz’s free kick found Kempes Tekiela, who headed it on to the onrushing Kai Merk, who finished from close range.

The goal was succeeded by another few Union chances shortly after, but Fola could bounce back eventually, creating chance after chance for most of the first half and requiring alert last-ditch defending to be stopped numerous times. In the 40th minute though, one such defensive challenge was mistimed from Union, bringing Quinol to the ground and conceding a penalty. Jules Diallo put it in the back of the net, scoring a hugely valuable goal just minutes before half-time.

If any supporter missed out on the opening phase of the first half, they can deem themselves lucky as the teams essentially replayed the script as the game resumed: growing Fola dominance, few chances, Union goal. This time it was an individual mistake by defender Wesley Orville, who fouled Merk

inside the box, leaving the referee with no choice but to award the second penalty of the day. Artur Abreu converted it effortlessly.

After the goal, what we saw was a disheartened, disappointed and slightly desperate Fola Esch, trying to control the game but mostly failing at it, while also trying to equalise sooner rather than later but without any real opportunities. In the last 15-20 minutes they even managed to pin Union back inside their own half at times but they lacked the flair and guile required to unlock a deep-set defence. As the referee blew the final whistle, the regret in Fola players and staff alike could be understandable. They played one of the steadiest performing teams of the season and took the game to them, almost keeping at least one point at home.

The lack of progressive play and the worrying chance conversion rate might have something to do with the fact that manager Stefano Bensi has to work with a young and raw team clearly lacking ability to compete with most other teams as of yet. The game itself showed some promise today though, so if they can replicate this performance in the weeks ahead, they have every reason to maintain hopes in survival.

Around the pitches:

Swift Hesperange continued exactly where they left off before the winter break, with a comprehensive 5-1 beating of struggling Hostert. Top scorer Rayan Philippe added one to his tally for the season before giving one assist each to both centre-backs, Kévin Malget and Jerry Prempeh, in the second half. Dominik Stolz and Ken Corral also chipped in with goals, helping Hesper pass F91 on the table and jump in first place.

Hard times continue for Differdange, whose situation was made even tougher by the sale of key attacker Bertino Cabral in the winter. They conceded early on against Strassen on Sunday afternoon and the guests saw the game out with a 1-0, creeping up above FCD on the table. Differdange are now in 8th place, 11 points adrift from European qualification.

Mondercange recorded their first win in the BGL Ligue since August 28, when they beat Fola 3-0. This time, the opponents were another team in the relegation fight, Etzella Ettelbrück. Talisman striker El Hassan M’Barki scored his first goal for the last 4 games. Both him and the team took a rapidfire start to the season before the goals dried up and the results stopped coming. Now though, it seems like it might all be clicking again.

Racing FCUL struggled against Mondorf for most of the game, but an early penalty scored by national team striker Edvin Muratović saw them through. Mondorf went down to 10 men in the last minutes, after new signing Dwayn Holter got a second yellow card on his competitive debut. Racing are thus still in the run for the UEFA Conference League qualification place one point behind Niedercorn, while Mondorf are still untroubled in mid-table.