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Vukic shatters Belgian hopes

Wednesday, 17 November 2004

By Berend Scholten at the Stade Roi Baudouin

[1] Serbia and Montenegro seized control of Group 7 and left Belgium's hopes of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in disarray after goals in each half from Zvonimir Vukic and Mateja Kezman ensured victory for Ilja Petkovic's side in Brussels.

Mpenzas injured

[2] Belgium were without the experience of suspended captain Bart Goor and vice-captain Eric Deflandre, both sent off in defeat by Spain last month, and were also missing the attacking power of the injured Mbo and Emile Mpenza. Coach Aimé Anthuenis started with four in midfield with Thomas Buffel in support, leaving Wesley Sonck as the sole striker.

Vukic strikes

[3] But after only ten minutes Anthuenis was forced to change tactics as the visiting side took the lead. Savo Milosevic picked out Vukic's run through the centre and through on goal the striker had no trouble beating Silvio Proto, who was making his international debut.

Jevric saves

[4] Anthuenis replaced Olivier Deschacht with Koen Daerden and with 15 minutes of the first half to play Belgium began to create chances. First Roberto Bisconti was denied by Dragoslav Jevric, then a minute later Sonck sent a header narrowly over. Their best opportunity came on 37 minutes when Walter Baseggio sent Sonck clear, but the striker was bundled off the ball as he bore down on Jevric.

Kezman scores

[5] Both teams made chances soon after the restart. Dejan Stankovic fired narrowly over, then Buffel failed to hit the target after rounding Jevric. Anthuenis brought on Luigi Pieroni to bolster his attack, but moments later disaster struck for the home side. Kezman broke into the area from the left and finished superbly, shooting past Proto to make the score 2-0.

Pieroni unlucky

[6] Belgium substituted Sonck with Stein Huysegems in a final attempt to turn the tide, but again it was the visitors who came closest, Proto this time thwarting Vukic after he had again broken through on goal. Luck, however, was against Belgium and twice Pieroni hit the crossbar as the hosts pressed to the end.

Belgium concern

[7] Serbia and Montenegro now top the group with ten points from four matches and will take a big step towards the World Cup in Germany should they beat Spain in their next Group 7 fixture on 30 March. Belgium, with just one point from three games, are at home to Bosnia and Herzegovina four days earlier.

Serbia and Montenegro's first goalscorer Zvonimir Vukic