KRC Genk have taken the Belgian title for a third time with a 1-1 draw against R. Standard de Liège in the final game of the end-of-season play-offs.
Genk finished the regular season in second place on 64 points, one less than RSC Anderlecht, while Standard had amassed 49 points in sixth spot. With points from those first 30 games halved, Genk started the play-offs with 32 points while Standard's total was rounded up to 25, on the understanding that they would lose half a point in the event that they finished level on points with another side. That half-point deduction was triggered as they ended the campaign level on points with Genk.
The decisive game proved to be a thrilling one. Knowing they had to win, Standard went for it, taking the lead in first-half added time when Eliaquim Mangala converted Steven Defour's free-kick from close range. Genk sent on Kennedy Nwanganga as an extra striker on 75 minutes and he headed the equaliser two minutes later, with some excellent saves from Thibaut Courtois late on seeing Frank Vercauteren's side hang on for their third title, following successes in 1999 and 2002.
"It is fantastic," Vercauteren said. "What emotions! It was an open match with ups and downs, and difficult moments against a very good Standard side. We did it the hard way, but in the end we got what we deserved." The club's 20-goal top scorer Jelle Vossen added: "My childhood dream has come true. They will not see me at home for the next few days."
Genk, founded in 1988 with the merger of KFC Winterslag and Waterschei SV Thor, will now compete in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, along with Standard.