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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

Maksimir Stadium (ATT 30,000) 11th October 2013 - Kick off 17:00 Ref: H Webb

Croatia Croatia vs Belgium Belgium

Croatia 1

N Kranjcar (84)

ft

Belgium 2

R Lukaku (15, 38)

World Cup: Belgium book spot in Brazil with 2-1 victory away to Croatia in Group A

Last Updated: 11/10/13 7:53pm

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Romelu Lukaku celebrates his opening goal as Belgium beat Croatia

Romelu Lukaku celebrates his opening goal as Belgium beat Croatia

Belgium ensured they will deservedly take their place at next year's World Cup in Brazil as a Romelu Lukaku brace sealed an impressive 2-1 victory over Croatia in Zagreb.

The visitors needed only to avoid defeat to be sure of qualifying as winners of Group A but got across the line with plenty in reserve as Croatia - who replied late on through Niko Kranjcar - had to be content with a place in the play-offs.

Marc Wilmots' star-studded Belgians have cruised through their qualification campaign, with Friday's 2-1 win their eighth of the group stage - their only dropped points so far coming with a draw at home to Croatia in September last year.

Even without the injured Vincent Kompany and Christian Benteke Wilmots was able to field a line-up with quality in every area, with the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Marouane Fellaini and Eden Hazard all on show.

But it was Everton striker Lukaku who took centre stage in the first half, bagging two more goals in what has been a fine start to the season to further call into question the decision of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho to ship him out on loan.

Sixteen minutes had gone when the giant frontman opened the scoring, Steven Defour providing a defence-splitting pass that he ran onto before rounding the goalkeeper and slotting home.

Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa did better on 28 minutes when he clawed away a Fellaini header, but he had no answer 10 minutes later when Lukaku made it two.

This time the striker got in behind the home defence and benefited from a lucky ricochet as Pletikosa dived at his feet, the ball bouncing into his path and allowing him to run the ball into the unguarded net.

Croatia rallied just before the break and Belgium had Thibaut Courtois to thank for preserving their clean sheet when he reacted to keep out Mario Mandzukic's header.

The second half lacked the excitement of the first, with Croatia perhaps resigned to their fate.

However, the visiting fans did have reason to get to their feet in the 69th minute as they acclaimed match-winner Lukaku, who was withdrawn to be replaced by Nacer Chadli.

Belgium almost made it three 13 minutes from the end when substitute Kevin Mirallas played in Fellaini but the Manchester United man saw his low shot kept out by the feet of Pletikosa.

Instead the final goal went the way of the hosts as Kranjcar drilled home a sweet half-volley with six minutes left, but Belgium were not to be denied the pleasure of sealing their first World Cup appearance since 2002 with a fine victory.

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Matches

  • FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

    Fri 11th Oct - Group B
    Fri 11th Oct - Group G
    • Lithuania
      2 - 0
      Latvia
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      TV
    • Bos&Herz
      4 - 1
      Liechtenstein
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    • Greece
      1 - 0
      Slovakia
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    Fri 11th Oct - Group A
    Fri 11th Oct - Group F
    Fri 11th Oct - Group H
    Fri 11th Oct - Group C
    Fri 11th Oct - Group E
    Fri 11th Oct - Group D
    Fri 11th Oct - Group I

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