Soccer

Belgium beats Serbia 2-1 in World Cup qualifier

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BRUSSELS (AP)

Kevin De Bruyne scored a goal and assisted on another to give Belgium a 2-1 win over Serbia Friday and the lead in its World Cup qualifying group.

Belgium craved an early lead and got it when Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen sent in a cross from the right in the 14th minute and Werder Bremen's De Bruyne headed home into the near corner.

On the hour-mark, De Bruyne sent in a corner toward Marouane Fellaini and the Everton midfielder beat Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic to the ball to put the match beyond doubt.

An 86th-minute consolation from a free kick by Manchester City's Aleksandar Kolarov came too late to sway the momentum in the game at the sold-out 50,000-capacity Kig Baudouin stadium.

Current King Albert II was in the stands to celebrate a win that brought Belgium closer to next year's finals in Brazil.

The Red Devils came into the game level on points with Croatia in the group, but Scotland stunned the Croatians at home to make a big difference in the group, with Belgium now having 19 points compared to Croatia's 16. Belgium also has a better goal difference bust still has to travel to Zagreb.

`'We are three points ahead, but there are nine points still at stake,'' De Bruyne said.

Belgium came into the game with its Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard on the bench because of a hamstring injury.

But the Red Devils, buoyed on by the frenzied fans, were never really into trouble. And when Serbia broke through, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois continued his fine form that he showed all season for Atletico Madrid and smothered every Serbian chance.

`'We're lucky to have the best goalies in the world,'' captain Vincent Kompany said.



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