Skip to main content

Belgium, Portugal net crucial wins in World Cup qualifying

June 7, 2013 -- Updated 2218 GMT (0618 HKT)
Midfielder Axel Witsel and his Belgian teammates moved a step closer to qualifying for next year's World Cup in Brazil.
Midfielder Axel Witsel and his Belgian teammates moved a step closer to qualifying for next year's World Cup in Brazil.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Belgium pulls three points clear of Croatia after beating Serbia 2-1 in Brussels
  • Expected to collect three points against Scotland, Croatia loses 1-0 at home
  • Portugal ends Russia's perfect record with a 1-0 victory in Lisbon
  • Striker Mario Balotelli sees red in Italy's 0-0 draw at the Czech Republic

(CNN) -- Belgian defender Vincent Kompany said this week there would be a "commotion" in Belgium if his country failed to qualify for next year's World Cup.

After Friday's win against Serbia, Belgium, with its so-called golden generation of players, is getting closer to Brazil.

The Red Devils, who last appeared at soccer's showpiece event in 2002, beat Serbia 2-1 in qualifying.

Kevin De Bruyne and Marouane Fellaini scored headed goals in each half in Brussels to lift Belgium to 19 points in Group A. Kompany's club teammate at Manchester City, Aleksandar Kolarov, pulled a goal back for Serbia in the 88th minute.

De Bruyne, who also set up Fellaini's effort, could be the next Belgian to move to the Premier League -- he's being linked with Chelsea. The majority of players Belgium used on Friday ply their trade in England's top division.

Belgium received a further boost, guaranteed of at least second spot, when Croatia blew an opportunity to go level on points with three matches remaining. Despite registering nearly 20 shots, Croatia was upset 1-0 by Scotland in Zagreb.

Elsewhere, Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal defeated Russia 1-0 to move into top spot ahead of Fabio Capello's men in Group F.

Postiga winner

Veteran striker Helder Postiga netted on a tap-in in the ninth minute in Lisbon to end Russia's perfect 4-0 record.

Pele: Mourinho is 'good for Chelsea'
Grooming Ghana's next football stars
FIFA Congress tackles racism and reform

Portugal, which qualified for the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 courtesy of playoff victories against Bosnia-Herzegovina, improved to 14 points, although Russia possesses two games in hand.

Ireland and Austria recorded victories to rise to 11 points in Group C as they seek to nail down second place behind runaway leader Germany.

Robbie Keane celebrated becoming Ireland's most capped player -- he made his 126th appearance to surpass goalkeeper Shay Given -- by scoring all of Ireland's goals in a 3-0 win against the Faroe Islands in Dublin.

"There was a lot of talk about getting the record caps but that was almost in the back of my mind," Keane said.

Even with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in its ranks, Sweden fell 2-1 to Austria in Vienna. Johan Elmander, not Ibrahimovic, tallied for the visitor with eight minutes remaining.

Sweden, though, will be favored to reach 11 points next week, as it faces the Faroe Islands.

Ukraine, co-host of Euro 2012, did England a favor in Group H by topping group leader Montenegro 4-0 away from home.

Ukraine took the lead early in the second half -- after being reduced to 10 men -- with Montenegro then having two players dismissed as its frustration grew.

Montenegro leads the group with 14 points, two more than England and three more than Ukraine but with a game more played.

Away wins for Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece, over Latvia and Lithuania, respectively, leave Bosnia-Herzegovina three points ahead of Greece in Group G.

More trouble for Mario

Although in little danger of not qualifying from Group B, there was a sour note for Italy in its 0-0 draw at the Czech Republic.

Striker Mario Balotelli, no stranger to controversy, was dismissed in the second half after receiving two yellow cards.

He struck defender Theodor Gebre Selassie in the face with a forearm to receive his marching orders.

"Balotelli should control himself better -- he allowed himself to be provoked," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli told reporters. "There were a couple of fouls that were not given but that's no explanation for what he did."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.
ADVERTISEMENT