KV Oostende v KAS Eupen, Saturday 10th September 2022, 6.15pm

After three days in Luxembourg Jen and I caught the train back to Belgium. It was easy and cheap, with five hours of first-class travel from Luxembourg city to Ostend costing just over thirty quid each. It’s the same price whether you book on the day or in advance and there were plenty of seats.

We broke our journey at Bruges to check into our hotel and drop the bags off before continuing on to Ostend. It’s only around fifteen minutes further down the line. Once there we caught a bus from the station to the Diaz Arena.

Getting tickets for the top-tier game between Oostende and Eupen proved to be more of an arse on than the travel had been. When we eventually found the ticket office, they wanted ID. Fortunately we both had passports with us. Then we had to pay with cash only. I had about sixty-five euros in cash on me and with tickets at thirty euros a pop we were down to small change. Fortunately, we had time to nip to a cash machine around the corner.

Security was tight and we were thoroughly searched before taking our seats in the main stand. The next difficulty was getting a drink. Whilst I now had a wallet full of euros, they were no use inside the ground where everything had to be paid for using a special pre-loaded stadium card. I joined the queue for food whilst Jen got into line for obtaining and then adding cash to the card.

The Diaz Arena dates back to the 1930’s. Apparently it was done up a few years ago, but it is still an interesting ground. Each side has a separate stand, apart from the one opposite to us that seemed to have three different areas. There was also a decent view from the block of flats behind the stand to our left.

The capacity is around eight and a half thousand, but this was more than enough with it being less than half full.

Oostende were in red and green with Eupen in black. The home side looked to have taken the lead not long after the half-hour when a cross from the right was neatly tucked away. They have VAR in the Belgian top-tier though and it was soon ruled out for offside.

At half-time we tried to get a couple of cokes but at two and a half euros for a 250ml bottle, we were twenty cents short on the card, necessitating another top up in a different line. I can see the benefits of the card if you are a regular but as a one-off visitor it was more work than I wanted.

The royal death a couple of days earlier was marked by the playing of God Save the Queen during the interval. The Sex Pistols version. I bet it’s a while before I hear that at an English stadium.

Oostende opened the scoring not long after the restart with a shot from the left. They then had a fella sent off for a second yellow in a game that had become increasingly niggly. Eupen were more in control with the extra man but couldn’t make their possession count and Oostende held on for the win. We got lucky with the timing of the bus but then had to wait nearly an hour at the station for the next train back to Bruges.

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