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  • By Alessandro Schiavone

Vincent Janssen runs riot for Antwerp on the day old foe Harry Kane leaves Spurs

By Alessandro Schiavone at Bosuilstadion in Antwerp


Royal Antwerp 6-0 Kortrijk



On the day Harry Kane finally landed in Munich to become a new Bayern player, his former Tottenham Hotspur rival Vincent Janssen landed a quickfire hat-trick as champions Royal Antwerp trashed Kortrijk 6-0. 

 

In doing so, he not only threw his hat in the ring and sent a warning to his main rival Kasper Dolberg in the race for Belgium’s Golden Boot. But impressively the Dutchman outdid himself, eclipsing his dismal Premier League goal record of two strikes in 27 games during his ill-fated White Hart Lane stint. And it took him less than 50 minutes to set that in stone. A feat which reflects his standing in Belgian football.


London was an unfortunate period of his career which the striker himself tries to avoid looking back on. Despite joining from AZ Alkmaar with his stock sky-high, he barely got a look-in as old foe Kane went from strength to strength and sowed the seeds for all the records that he was going to break in the years that followed. 

 

And after bagging a sensational 21 goals last campaign to help Belgium’s oldest club to a first championship since 1957 he showed that he will not be affected by the famous second season syndrome yesterday night. 

 

Hence after drawing two blanks in the opening two games of the season, he was at it again in emphatic fashion. 

 

Barely ten minutes had passed at the Bosuilstadion before Janssen gave Antwerp the lead with a poacher’s finish from Gaston Avila’s delivery.


And he could have added his second less than 180 seconds later but failed to connect properly with a high ball in from the right-flank. But it was only a matter of time before he made sure of all three points for the reigning kampioen van België when burying an outstanding volley into the far corner following Balikwisha’s headed assist into space. The scoreline read 3-0. Game over.


What struck about Janssen was his ability to be a goalscorer and a creator at the same time. He also proved that he’s no one-trick pony when making Antwerp’s second of the night after brilliantly chesting a cross with his back to goal to release the 22-year-old attacking midfielder. Balikwisha then went on to score with the help of Wasinski who bundled the cross into his own net. 

 

Manager Mark Van Bommel then saw his revived centre-forward slot home his third after pouncing on some diabolical Kortrijk defending shortly before the hour-mark.  

 

Man of the match, he absolutely bullied manager Edward Still’s back-five and will live rent free in Wasinski, Atemona, Oprut, Radovanovic and De Neve’s heads for quite some time. 

 

One of the enduring myths espoused by pundits and experts is that every player can have a season of grace but only the best will follow it up. Given that Janssen failed to build on his strong Dutch season in London the following campaign those doubts were justified. But he is on his way to silencing his English critics by showing that at the mature age of 29 he can deliver the goods season-in season-out.


If his goals and leadership will propel Antwerp to the Champions League group stages all while retaining the Belgian crown, his name will forever be etched in the country's football history. Needless to stay he is in the club's folklore already come what may thanks to his contribution in their majestic title-winning season that saw them pip both Union Saint Gilloise and Genk with literally the last kick of the season when Toby Alderweireld famously fired a worldie into the top corner.

 

For 71 minutes yesterday, he played Kortrijk off the park, looking like a man taking on kids and showing them how to become a professional footballer. Very often when he plays well, Antwerp play well as a result.


Yet the more pertinent question is: how much can be taken from this performance? Kortrijk are one of the relegation candidates and most teams in the Jupiler Pro League would struggle in our Championship. And their defenders are hardly top-level material.

 

But Antwerp's supporters could not care less as they serenade their superstar. Sporting director Marc Overmars and Van Bommel took a chance on him 12 months ago and it paid off. Handsomely.


But the real barometer of his growth will unquestionably be the Championship play-off against either Dinamo Zagreb or AEK Athens in less than a fortnight. Only if he fires Antwerp to the Champions League group stages some of his critics in England will start to finally give him credit for his rise and view his achievements in a different light. 

 

And Kane would be the first to applaud from Germany. 

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