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VIDEO: Egypt youngster Hafez scores as Lierse down Cercle Brugge in relegation playoff
In the crucial third game of the five-match relegation playoff, Lierse overcame Cercle Brugge away from home by a score of 2-0, thanks to goals from Etien Velikonja and Karim Hafez.
Four Egyptians played in the match, with Ahmed Sayed ‘Zizo’, Karim Hafez and Ibrahim Helal Shehata starting, while Ahmed Hassan El-Genawy came off the bench.
Lierse opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Slovenia international Velikonja, on loan from Cardiff City, netted an excellent free-kick from the edge of the box.
Just three minutes after Lierse made their final substitution – which saw striker El-Genawy, 19, replace Shehata, 25, while Zizo, 19, was replaced earlier – the Yellow Black’s Army doubled the score, via another free-kick. 19-year-old Egyptian left-back Karim Hafez scored from a tough acute angle on the right flank, as the ball glided over everyone in the box, including the opposition goalkeeper, and into the top left corner.
This was Hafez’s second goal for the club, having scored earlier in the season against Westerlo, but this may turn out to be one of the most crucial he will ever score if it helps Maged Samy’s club remain in the Belgian top flight.
The relegation playoff consists of five games between teams ranked 15th and 16th after the regular Jupiler Pro League season. The loser of the playoff gets relegated to the second division, whereas the winner joins three teams from the second division in the Belgian Second Division Final Round. The winner of this round plays in the first division the following season.
The 15th-placed team (Cercle Brugge) started the playoffs with three points whereas the 16th-placed team (Lierse) started from zero. However, both teams are now level on points with six each, as Lierse have won 2 of the 3 games thus far.