Where Hazard fails former Arsenal youngster succeeds in Belgium

Belgium Flag

Thorgan Hazard could not end his difficult week with a match-winner for Zulte-Waregem - but Olafur Skulason did.

Belgian side Zulte-Waregem have been causing ructions in their home nation recently. Last term they finished second only to Anderlecht in the Belgian Pro League - and considering this is a team that only formed via a merger in 2001 that is a sensational achievement.

The club went into the tie with Kortrijk yesterday under something of a cloud.

The club recently appointed Chelsea loanee Thorgan Hazard as the captain - deposing the clubs fan favourite, right-back Davy De Fauw.

It was a farcical decision that just added to frayed tensions in the camp.

In the same week young midfielder Junior Malanda agreed a move to VfL Wolfsburg - he returns on loan but the way he went about forcing the move has left many in the camp reportedly disillusioned.

The club were also beating 2-0 by PSV Eindhoven in their long anticipated Champions League qualifier in midweek - so manager Franck Dury would have been praying for a return to good times in the league.

But their usual talisman Hazard was clearly caught up in the affair over his captaincy. He has since handed back the armband to De Fauw but he struggled in the tie. He booked in the 27th minute and as the game looked like edging toward a disappointing 0-0 draw - it didn’t seem like he would save the day.

But lucky for them a former Arsenal youngster was on hand to do just that.

Olafur Skulason came off the bench on 72 minutes - and the 30-year-old Icelander squeezed a shot past Darren Keet with four minutes remaining to earn all three points.

Skulason was a youngster at Arsenal between 2001 and 2005 - playing against Wolverhampton Wanderers in a Carling Cup tie in December 2003.

Despite being highly rated he was flogged in 2005 to Brentford - with hope high of a thriving career in the Football League.

However he suffered a brutal cruciate ligament injury on his Bees debut and missed the entire season.

After failing to prove his fitness at Griffin Park he went back to Scandinavia - and after stints in Sweden and Denmark he made the move to Belgium

Skulason’s role nowadays is mainly as a back-up - coming on into holding midfield to help the team see out results - his introduction is rarely considered as a means toward securing victory.

But that was the case yesterday as Zulte brought a smile to their fans faces yet again after what has been a difficult week.

Here are the highlights from the game including the goal from Skulason…

 

image: © mikehamm

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