Belgium beats Macedonia 1-0 in qualifier

March 26, 2013

Chelsea's Eden Hazard finished off a classy solo move to give Belgium a 1-0 victory over Macedonia and a share of the lead in World Cup qualifying Group A.

Hazard plucked a bad clearance out of the air in the 62nd minute, faked a shot with his right and put the ball on his left foot to rifle home the decider from 10 meters out.

The narrow victory gave Belgium 16 points from six games to stay level with Croatia, which came from behind to beat Wales 2-1. Macedonia's second loss in a row left it with four points and in fifth place.

Belgium had already beaten Macedonia 2-0 in Skopje on Friday and the sellout crowd of 50,000 wanted at least as much in Brussels' King Baudouin Stadium. Belgium coach Marc Wilmots was looking for a big win to boost the goal differential which could be decisive in the battle with Croatia to win the group.

As it was, both won by one goal and Belgium has a goal difference of plus 10 compared seven for Croatia.

`'Our win is fantastic and our goal difference remains good,'' said captain Vincent Kompany, who reclaimed his place at the heart of the defense after the Manchester City stalwart missed two months with a calf injury. ''I had no trouble.''

In the first half though, the Red Devils failed to create enough pressure to threaten the Macedonia defense. It soon changed in the second half and Macedonia was lucky to see a 15-meter shot from Hazard crash onto the crossbar in the 59th minute.

Hazard's luck improved with his fifth career goal for Belgium.

`'They think I will shoot and then I move,'' he said of his fake that preceded his goal. His 34th cap was his most decisive performance yet for Belgium.

But instead of looking for a convincing win and build on the momentum of the goal, the Red Devils started playing for time and held on for the win.

`'Not the prettiest game,'' Kompany said. `'It was a mature performance.''