BRUSSELS, March 29 (Reuters) - Belgium held on to second
spot in Euro 2012 qualifying Group A with a 4-1 defeat of
Azerbaijan in Brussels on Tuesday.
A Jan Vertonghen strike from a free-kick, a Timmy Simons
penalty and a Nacer Chadli header meant the hosts had the game
effectively decided at 3-1 by the end of the first half.
Jelle Vossen's tap-in 16 minutes completed the scoring and
earned Belgium a richly deserved win, which came despite the
absence of injured striker Romelu Lukaku and playmaker Marouane
Fellaini and suspended centre-back Vincent Kompany.
Belgian coach Georges Leekens had warned before the match of
the danger posed by Azerbaijan, who stunned Turkey with a 1-0
home victory last October. However, the team that came to
Brussels was more reminiscent of the side crushed 6-1 by Germany
Belgium's only blip came four minutes after they had taken
the lead when a rare Azerbaijan attack led to a corner, from
which Ruslan Abushev headed in.
Germany lead Group A with 15 points, from Belgium on 10,
Turkey on nine and Austria on 7. Belgium have played six
matches, their rivals all five each. Belgium next host Turkey in
a crunch match on June 3.
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