Samatta stars for Genk in Europa League
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GENK’S Spanish midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo (left) and Tanzanian forward Mbwana Ally Samatta celebrate a goal during their UEFA Europa League round of 16 match against KAA Gent in Gent on Thursday. Genk won 5-2. (AFP photo)

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TANZANIAN international Mbwana Samatta’s double helped Genk to a 5-2 win in their all-Belgian Europa League tie at Gent on Thursday night.

The national soccer team Taifa Stars striker was in prolific form, scoring a goal in each half as Genk recorded their biggest win in European club football competition.

Samuel Kalu levelled for Gent just six minutes after Ruslan Malinovskyi’s low free-kick had given Genk the early lead. But Omar Colley restored the visitors’ lead when Malinovskyi’s corner was misjudged by Gent goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic and the defender gratefully nodded home to an open goal.

Jean-Paul Boetius then provided Samatta’s first of the night to give the away side a two-goal cushion. The winger’s elegant ball in to the striker was chested down and drilled into the Gent net to make it 3-1.

And Genk were not done yet. Before the half was out, full back Jere Uronen put the visitors in a commanding position at the break when he beat Kalinic with another low strike. But there was some fight in the home side after half time.

Kalifa Coulibaly steered home a header and halved Gent’s deficit again with half an hour left and gave the home crowd hope of an improbable comeback. Gent missed a crucial opportunity to cut the lead to one when Mat Ryan dived low to save Jeremy Perbet’s penalty after Malinovskyi brought Kalu down in the box.

The next goal proved crucial and again it was Samatta who inflicted the damage. The Tanzania international grabbed his second and Genk’s fifth to put the game beyond all hope when he poked home with just under 20 minutes to go.

To heap more misery on Hein Vanhaezebrouck’s side, midfielder Anderson Esiti was sent off in the dying minutes for a late challenge on Siebe Schrijvers, rendering him suspended for the return fixture.

Gent will have to overturn their three-goal deficit when they travel to the Cristal Arena on March 16.

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