Falcao leads Colombia past Belgium

Radamel Falcao of Columbia
Radamel Falcao opened Colombia's scoring sheet against Belgium.
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Radamel Falcao led Colombia to a 2-0 victory over Belgium in a friendly between top-five teams on Thursday.

In a face-off between two potential stars of next year's World Cup, Falcao got the better of Eden Hazard, if only because of his decisive strike.

In the 52nd minute, Falcao broke open the tight and entertaining game when he beat the offside trap and swerved past goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to bury it deep in the net.

''Falcao proved his value to us again,'' Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said. ''He has an enormous potential.''

Skills run far deeper in the fourth-ranked Colombia team than Falcao, and in the 67th Victor Ibarbo proved it, controlling a pass with one foot in the penalty area before volleying it past Mignolet with his left to put the match away.

Belgium, ranked fifth, twice hit the woodwork. Marouane Fellaini latched on to a header of Thomas Vermaelen without success in the 76th, and Dries Mertens' shot hit the same left post seven minutes later.

''A good match, but they scored, and we were unlucky,'' Mignolet said.

Belgium's top striker, Christian Benteke, had two great chances, but his recent lack of club form showed with two poor headers.

Colombia will complete its mini tour of Europe with a game against the Netherlands next Tuesday, when Belgium will meet Japan.

In a sold-out 40,000-capacity King Baudouin Stadium, Belgium wanted to test out its second-string goalie Mignolet but he could do little about the goals. Especially in the second half, the Colombians highlighted the absence of injured Belgium captain and central defender Vincent Kompany, as they cut through the offside trap and found men open in the center.

Falcao was denied for much of the game but continuously weighed on the defense and directed his team with passes and instructions.

By comparison, Hazard could impress his Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho in the stands with several lightning moves but a decisive pass was lacking.

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