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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

Cardiff City Stadium (ATT 20,156) 7th September 2012 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: S Johannesson

Wales Wales vs Belgium Belgium

Wales 0

J Collins (S/O 26)

ft

Belgium 2

V Kompany (42)
J Vertonghen (82)

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Belgium sweet like chocolate

Ten-man Wales humbled at home

By Rebecca Stephenson.   Last Updated: 07/09/12 11:06pm

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Wales opened their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Belgium after they were forced to play with 10 men for 65 minutes.

James Collins received a straight red card for a two-footed challenge and from then on it was an uphill task.

Chris Coleman's side put in a spirited display in Cardiff but were unable to cope with the passing style of the visitors who boasted an ominous Premier League midfield of Eden Hazard, Moussa Dembele and Marouane Fellaini.

But it was two English-based defenders who claimed the points for Belgium, both from set-pieces.

Manchester City's Vincent Kompany netted with a powerful header from a first-half corner, before Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen hit a piledriving free-kick into the top corner in the last ten minutes.

Worrying run

There are positives for manager Chris Coleman to take into Tuesday's next fixture in Serbia, but Wales are now on a worrying run of four defeats without scoring a goal.

Wales had been heavy underdogs coming into the game, with Coleman not being helped by a an injury list that included late withdrawal Joe Allen, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Hennessey, Neil Taylor, Andrew Crofts and Jack Collison.

But they had made a good start, with a disciplined defensive display frustrating the classy visitors while also looking potent on the break.

Wales fashioned the first real chance as Gareth Bale's cushioned header fell for David Edwards via a deflection off Vertonghen, but the Wolves man could only find the side-netting.

Bale carved out another chance after 18 minutes, ghosting past Dries Mertens, but his cross was too high for Simon Church.

The host had a lucky escape at the other end as Collins brilliantly denied Vermaelen a point-blank header, before Mertens deflected effort rolled just wide of the far post.

But Welsh hopes crumbled when Collins, playing his first international since March 2011, saw red after his terrible challenge on Gillet.

Exasperated

The West Ham defender and his team-mates seemed exasperated by the decision, although replays did not suggest he had any grounds for complaint.

His dismissal prompted a reshuffle from Coleman as Ashley Williams dropped back from midfield into a more familiar role in the centre of defence alongside Darcy Blake.

Belgium soon began to exploit the extra space and Mertens should have given Marc Wilmots' side the lead after 35 minutes, but the PSV Eindhoven winger fired narrowly wide after cutting in from the left.

Bale continued to pose Wales' best attacking threat and another purposeful surge from the Tottenham man came so close to finding the opener, but Church saw his shot blocked by Gillet.

And the miss was punished when skipper Kompany got the better of Blake to head in at the near post from Mertens' pin-point corner to give Belgium the lead in the 42nd minute.

Belgium looked comfortable and camped on the edge of the Wales box from the off at the start of the second half, with Axel Witsel blazing over and Mertens shooting straight at Boaz Myhill.

Adam Matthews denied substitute Romelu Lukaku an easy finish with a fine defensive header, while Vertonghen hit the side-netting after linking wonderfully with Eden Hazard.

Wales were clinging on bravely, and only a sharp save from Thibault Courtois denied them an equaliser from Bale's fierce free-kick, before Williams headed narrowly wide from the resulting corner.

Wales were fortunate to escape punishment when Edwards and Matthews misplaced passes in quick succession, but on both occasions Lukaku could not control balls into his feet.

But Belgium put the seal on the win in the 83rd minute when Wales captain Aaron Ramsey fouled Lukaku; Vertonghen stepped up to hammer the free-kick beyond Myhill and end home hopes of salvaging a point.

WalesTeam StatisticsBelgium
0Goals2
01st Half Goals1
1Shots on Target3
1Shots off Target12
4Blocked Shots8
6Corners16
7Fouls11
0Offsides2
2Yellow Cards2
1Red Cards0
70.3Passing Success93.1
21Tackles16
90.5Tackles Success75
29.3Possession70.7
30.4Territorial Advantage69.6
256Total Passes623
11Total Crosses51
146Lost Balls136
42Recoveries54
27.21st Half Poss.72.8
30.72nd Half Poss.69.3

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    Fri 7th Sep - Group G
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    Fri 7th Sep - Group I
    Fri 7th Sep - Group B
    Fri 7th Sep - Group D
    Fri 7th Sep - Group A
    Fri 7th Sep - Group E
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Tables

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Belgium 10 26
2 Croatia 10 17
3 Serbia 10 14
4 Scotland 10 11
5 Wales 10 10
6 Macedonia 10 7

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Italy 10 22
2 Denmark 10 16
3 Czech Republic 10 15
4 Bulgaria 10 13
5 Armenia 10 13
6 Malta 10 3

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Germany 10 28
2 Sweden 10 20
3 Austria 10 17
4 Republic of Ireland 10 14
5 Kazakhstan 10 5
6 Faroe Islands 10 1

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Netherlands 10 28
2 Romania 10 19
3 Hungary 10 17
4 Turkey 10 16
5 Estonia 10 7
6 Andorra 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Switzerland 10 24
2 Iceland 10 17
3 Slovenia 10 15
4 Norway 10 12
5 Albania 10 11
6 Cyprus 10 5

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Russia 10 22
2 Portugal 10 21
3 Israel 10 14
4 Azerbaijan 10 9
5 Northern Ireland 10 7
6 Luxembourg 10 6

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bosnia and Herzegovina 10 25
2 Greece 10 25
3 Slovakia 10 13
4 Lithuania 10 11
5 Latvia 10 8
6 Liechtenstein 10 2

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 England 10 22
2 Ukraine 10 21
3 Montenegro 10 15
4 Poland 10 13
5 Moldova 10 11
6 San Marino 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Spain 8 20
2 France 8 17
3 Finland 8 9
4 Georgia 8 5
5 Belarus 8 4

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