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Mpenza leads Belgian revival

Saturday, 26 March 2005

By Berend Scholten at Stade Roi Baudouin

[1] Two goals from Emile Mpenza in Brussels tonight helped Belgium take the first step to getting their FIFA World Cup campaign back on track.

First victory

[2] Bosnia-Herzegovina, who had drawn their opening two Group 7 games, took the lead inside the first minute but the Belgians battled back through Mpenza, and futher goals from Koen Daerden and Thomas Buffel to earn their first victory in four qualifying matches. With a trip to San Marino to come on Wednesday, Belgium will expect to add three more points to the four they already have.

Second attempt

[3] The visitors made a flying start when Elvir Baljic saw his shot headed clear by Peter Van Der Heyden, only to fall at the feet of Zlatan Bajramovic. His first attempt hit the post, but the rebound came back to him and he had no trouble finding the net at the second time of asking. Belgium refused to be too downbeat though, and soon overcame the early setback.

Equalising goal

[4] On 15 minutes, Olivier Doll sent Luigi Pieroni clear on the right wing, and his low pass made it easy for Mpenza to find the target from nine metres. Mpenza could then have made it two late in the half only for his effort, set up by captain Timmy Simons, to go wide of the post. FK Partizan defender Branimir Bajic then tried his luck for the visitors but home goalkeeper Silvio Proto was equal to it.

Simons assist

[5] As time ticked away in the first half, Belgium took the lead. Van Der Heyden cut inside from the left wing and found Daerden, who headed on to Mpenza. The ball then went back to Daerden, and he made no mistake. Belgium were boosted by their comeback and, after nine minutes of the second half, they were further ahead when Simons again set up Mpenza, and this time the forward made no mistake.

Excellent display

[6] Buffel wrapped things up 14 minutes before full time, with Mpenza capping an excellent display by setting up his colleague to score with a beautiful diagonal shot into the top right-hand corner. While Belgium prepare for San Marino, Bosnia-Herzegovina will hope for better at home against Lithuania on Wednesday night.

Belgium scored four goals tonight