The Loan Report: May 6-12

With the season close to an end, potential headline-makers for the Loan Report are becoming harder to find, but for the second week in a row, Kevin De Bruyne stood up and made himself counted by netting his eighth league goal of the season for Werder Bremen.

Having grabbed a goal against Augsburg last week, the Belgian went into the home clash with Eintracht Frankfurt in good form and it was a good thing too, as the point he earned in their 1-1 draw ensured Bremen keep their place in the Bundesliga next season.

It was also his last home game, with their final league fixture next weekend away to Nurnberg, and his club next season almost certain to be different.

If De Bruyne was making the headlines, then it was Nathaniel Chalobah who was involved in the biggest drama of the week, and perhaps the season, as Watford put themselves within one game of the Premier League in quite unbelievable style.

The Hornets were denied an automatic berth last weekend after a fairly ridiculous sequence of events against Leeds, and were therefore consigned to the traditionally tense playoffs, where they would face Leicester City.

A nervy first leg saw Leicester claim a 1-0 victory before returning to Vicarage Road on Sunday, where deep into stoppage time Chalobah (who played every minute of both legs) and Watford held a 2-1 lead, which tied the scores 2-2 on aggregate and with away goals not in effect, extra time loomed.

Referee Michael Oliver awarded a 97th minute penalty to Leicester for a very soft ‘foul’ on Anthony Knockaert. The Frenchman took the spot kick himself, but was denied by a terrific double save by Manuel Almunia. Twenty seconds later, Troy Deeney thundered a goal past Kasper Schmeichel to send Gianfranco Zola’s boys to Wembley.

They now face the winner of the other Semi Final, contested between Crystal Palace and Gustavo Poyet’s Brighton.

In the Premier League on Sunday, Romelu Lukaku – named West Brom’s Player of the Year the night before – started for the Baggies away to Norwich, but their collective attentions seemed to be headed towards their summer holidays as they were thoroughly smashed 4-0 by Norwich City.

It was theirs and his second game in a week following a good performance in a 1-0 loss to FA Cup runners-up Manchester City.

In the Netherlands, the final day of the season arrived with Vitesse Arnhem eliminated from the Champions League race but with the possibility of third still up for grabs, which would have meant a more favourable entry point into next season’s Europa League.

Tomas Kalas, Patrick van Aanholt and Gael Kakuta all played from the start against VVV Venlo with Kakuta being replaced after 65 minutes, but their poor end to the season continued with a 1-0 loss. It might well be the final appearance for the club for each of them, but with a long summer ahead and plenty of decisions to be made, anything can happen.

Kenneth Omeruo was absent for ADO Den Haag as they lost 4-2 to Zwolle and missed out on qualification for the lengthy end of season European playoffs.

In Belgium, the title picture is no clearer with just two rounds to go and Thorgan Hazard’s Zulte Waregem are very much still in the mix. They faced a must-win game against Lokeren on Saturday after two straight defeats and at one point were 2-0 down, but a superb second-half turnaround saw them triumph 3-2 and remain very much in the hunt. Hazard provided the cross for Malanda to head home the equaliser to rack up another assist.

In Spain, Thibaut Courtois had a pair of games, firstly coming out on top with a 3-1 win for Atlético Madrid away to Celta Vigo in a result which ensured qualification for next season’s Champions League, before he took on Barcelona on Sunday.

He helped to end Lionel Messi’s run of 21 consecutive league appearances with a goal but succumbed to late strikes from Alexis Sanchez and David Villa in a 2-1 defeat.

He was also awarded the Zamora Award for the best goalkeeper in La Liga, which was all but a certainly given his clean sheet record.

Lucas Piazón was not involved for Málaga in their heavy 5-2 defeat to Real Madrid in the same midweek matchday, and was an unused substitute against Sevilla on Sunday.

Ulises Dávila’s recent injury kept him out of Sabadell’s draw with Murcia, whilst Jhon Pírez got ten minutes at the end of Leganés’ 2-1 win over Caudal.

In Croatia, Matej Delac kept a second straight clean sheet for Inter Zapresic as the relegation strugglers picked up another win, beating Osijek 2-0 to haul themselves out of the drop zone. Results have improved dramatically since his return to the club and he’s played a key role in what may yet be a great escape.

Wallace and Fluminense had no fixture this week, whilst Cristian Cuevas played 12 minutes from the bench for O’Higgins against Colo Colo in Chilean league.