© Val Wagner
A perfect matchweek for neutrals! We witnessed eye-catching moments at high-quality games, goal galores, big teams performing to their best form and even Fola Esch managed to get their first win in the Stefano Bensi era. More about the fixtures below!
Mondercange 0-3 Wiltz
Progrѐs Niedercorn 1-0 Käerjéng
Jeunesse Esch 2-0 Victoria Rosport
Hostert 0-4 F91 Dudelange
Racing Union Luxembourg 1-3 Swift Hesper
UNA Strassen 0-1 Mondorf
Union Titus Pétange 4-2 Differdange
Etzella Ettelbrück 0-4 Fola Esch
Game of the Weekend #17:
Not many teams would fancy their chances against league leaders Hesper nowadays domestically. The Red-Whites are having an unbeaten season so far in all competitions, which is an unprecedented record across the continent. This latest test they've been put to, though, was about as hard as they come. Playing Racing Union away from home is no pushover game for anyone, given Fahrudin Kuduzović's team's newfound consistency. Before Sunday's game, the capital city's team had only lost one of their previous ten BGL Ligue games.
At Stade Achille Hammerel, Racing players were about to show why they have become one of the toughest teams to play, as they started on the front foot, surprising a slightly disorganised Hesper defence early on with quick but well-structured attacks. Arguably the biggest of those chances was a Jérôme Simon's terrible miss from close range.
It wasn't only with the ball that Racing dominated, either. Their pressing off the ball was the prime example of how to effectively kill off any build-up attempts from Hesper as the sky blues restricted the guests to playing long, hopeless balls towards the attackers. Hesper needed almost half an hour to come alive and find a way to outplay the RFCUL scheme. It culminated in a dangerous attack later in the first half as well, during which Clément Couturier was brought down inside the opponents' box. The resulting penalty was tucked away with accuracy by midfield maestro Dominik Stolz to give Hesper a valuable lead going into half-time in a tough environment.
For the second half, things changed. Racing couldn't rely on defending a draw and suppressing Hesper's chances, they had to commit more to get the result they were chasing. This resulted in spaces opening up for the guests to attack, and they had some quick exploits on that front, getting close to scoring several times. Just like in the first half, though, the goal came slightly against the state of play, as the equaliser came next. Just after the hour mark, Kévin N’Goma went on a spellbinding solo run taking on player after player before slotting home the shot from inside the box.
RFCUL's fans couldn't celebrate for long. Only three minutes after N'Goma scored, Rayan Philippe restored Swift's lead in the game and in the league table at the same time with an incredible powerful shot from an awkward angle in the left half-space. After getting a long ball from Couturier, the striker took a few extra touches before launching a rocket of an attempt into the far corner. Goalkeeper Romain Ruffier was left helpless.
The rest of the game was a lot duller after Hesper's dominance faded and Racing players' stamina levels started dropping off towards the end. The icing on the cake was another Dominik Stolz goal to confirm the win for the away side, who started the game with a rough patch but managed to grow out of it and assert dominance on another in-form team, widening the gap between the top two and the chasers even more.
Player of the Weekend #17:
Fola Esch have been going through an incredibly chaotic season – even by Luxembourgish National Division standards -, and after a shocking first half of the season, they had to spend the 3-month long winter break in the last position. Things didn't improve last week either, when they lost their game against Union to stay rock bottom. But it appears the team might be on the up after all, as they recorded their first win since Stefano Bensi took over the team in mid-December!
The 4-0 beating of fellow strugglers Etzella Ettelbrück came at the best time for Fola and will no doubt be a huge morale boost heading into the final months of the campaign on the back of two encouraging performances. One player who stood out and led the team was Jules Diallo. Three of the Frenchman's five goal contributions in 2022/23 came against Etzella, first assisting brilliant winter signing Kévin Quinol before scoring a brace himself in the second half to set the scoreline.
Goal of the Weekend #17:
Amine Naïfi opened his Differdange account for the season after transferring from his homeland France in the winter. His team played against Union Titus Pétange and the creative attacking midfielder did well to spot his opportunity in the 19th minute. From a free kick in a wide position, Pétange's goalkeeper André Leite Barrela clearly didn't take into account the possibility of a shot. But it is exactly what happened, Naïfi's curler flying past the wall and into the short corner left vacated by the keeper's positioning.
Storyline of the Weekend #17:
Although Naïfi's goal above was followed by a penalty from teammate Érico de Castro, Union did manage to turn the game around. 20 minutes from the end, they were still 2-1 behind, but an inspired finale left Differdange leaving pointless from Pétange, having only won one of their last 5 BGL Ligue games.
Artur Abreu's 70th minute equaliser was followed by late drama, when Kai Merk put Union ahead for the first time in the game at 3-2 in the 89th minute. There was no answer from Differdange: the only other goal was scored by a direct free kick after a stunning Kempes Tekiela move!