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Belgium sink 10-man Wales
Published : 07 Sep 2012 22:47:32
Belgium kicked off their bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup with a comfortable 2-0 win over 10-man Wales in Cardiff on Friday.
The Belgians received a significant boost when Wales defender James Collins was sent off midway through the first half and they took full advantage as goals from Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen sealed a winning start to their Group A campaign.
Wales had been heavy underdogs coming into the game, with manager Chris Coleman not helped by an injury list that included Joe Allen, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Hennessey, Neil Taylor, Andrew Crofts and Jack Collison.
The hosts had made a good start and threatened when Gareth Bale's cushioned header fell for David Edwards, who fired into the side-netting.
But that provided a false dawn and Belgium, widely regarded as one of the emerging forces in Europe, quickly established control.
Collins kept out Thomas Vermaelen's point-blank header with a fine block, but the West Ham defender, playing his first international since March 2011, saw red after a terrible challenge on Guillame Gillet.
Belgium quickly began to exploit the extra space and Dries 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.
The opening goal finally arrived in the 42nd minute when Manchester City defender Kompany got the better of Darcy Blake to head in at the near post from Mertens' corner.
Belgium 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 a goal with a fine clearing header, while Vertonghen hit the side-netting after linking with Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard.
But Belgium sealed the win in the 83rd minute when Wales captain Aaron Ramsey fouled Lukaku and Spurs defender Vertonghen stepped up to hammer the free-kick past Myhill.