The European dream of the club and its fans came to a halt in the quarter finals of the Conference League. A European campaign that will go down in the history books of our rich history. A journey with ups and downs, a lot of joy yet also tears, but above all a sense of pride of having represented our club and our country.
This article is a summary of our 16 European adventures. You'll find the archive material of our campaign (news, photos and videos) by simply clicking on the result of a specific match.
Challenging qualifying rounds
Thanks to the third place in the domestic league last season, RSC Anderlecht were exempted from the first two qualifying rounds of this European competition. The draw for the third qualifying round resulted in two games against the Estonians of Paide Linnameeskond. Anderlecht won twice comfortably and booked its spot in the play-off round. Facing Swiss side Young Boys, pressure mounted immediately. After a 0-1 victory in Bern, Sporting lost by the same score at home. Thanks to goalkeeper Hendrik Van Crombrugge, the qualification for the group stage was secured in a thrilling penalty shoot-out. All four matches were broadcast live on MAUVE TV for MAUVE+-members.
An exciting group stage
With three wins in our first four games, RSC Anderlecht was drawn in a group with Danish side Silkeborg, the Romanian FCSB and Premier League side West Ham United. After decent results at home against the Scandinavians (1-0) and on the road in Bucharest (0-0), Anderlecht suffered two defeats against the Londoners. Another draw at home against FCSB meant that our team - then coached by Robin Veldman - had to win in Silkeborg to seal the second spot in the group. With goals from Lior Refaelov and Benito Raman, Sporting finally ensured qualification and continued its European adventure after the long winter break and the World Cup.
The second place in the group stage 'condemned' RSCA to a new play-off round (against one of the third-placed teams of the Europa League group stage). In search of a ticket for the last 16, the Mauves - now coached by Brian Riemer - travelled to the small Bulgarian town of Razgrad, where they suffered a narrow defeat against Ludogorets. In Brussels, they turned the tables and again survived a penalty shoot-out, thanks to a three-star performance by Bart Verbruggen, now the starting goalkeeper. With his three saves in the penalty shoot-out, our goalie pulled out a performance that secured qualification for the Round of 16. After having drawn Spanish side Villarreal FC, the yellow submarine came to the Lotto Park in search of a win but was held to a draw thanks to a goal by Islam Slimani - who arrived in the winter transfer window - and another incredible performance by Bart Verbruggen. After a hard-fought victory in Villarreal, Sporting qualified for the quarter-finals.
A bitter ending
Next up: AZ Alkmaar. If Anderlecht managed to knock out the Dutch side, the Mauves would have reached a first European semi-final in the 20th century. The last semi-final was played in 1989-1990, when Sporting reached the final of the Cup Winners Cup but lost out to Sampdoria.
The first leg was played at the Lotto Park, with Anderlecht delivering a solid and mature performance and securing a 2-0 victory thanks to goals by Amir Murillo and Majeed Ashimeru. However, a terrible start to the return leg in the AFAS Stadium in Alkmaar signified the beginning of the end. After a quick 2-0 lead for the home team, Brian Riemer's men managed to hold on until after extra time. But the penalty shoot-out did not go our way this time.
Relive our European games below