BRUSSELS - Standard Liege retained the Belgian title on Sunday with a 1-0 win over Anderlecht in a playoff decider that guaranteed them a spot in the group phase of next season's Champions League. Liege's Axel Witsel scored a decisive penalty five minutes before halftime after Anderlecht's Victor Bernardez was adjudged to have brought down Dieumerci Mbokani. The two teams finished the season level on 77 points last weekend to force a playoff as the title cannot be won on goal difference. Thursday's first leg at Anderlecht ended 1-1. Liege dethroned Brussels-based Anderlecht last term to claim their first Belgian first division crown in 25 years. They have now taken their overall tally to 10. The playoff was billed as a 15 million euro decider because of the Champions League money it promises, nearly Liege's annual budget. Anderlecht will go into the third qualifying round of the competition. Third-placed Club Bruges and Ghent, who came fourth, will play in the Europa League along with cup winners Racing Genk.
24 May 2009
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