Wales hold Belgium to goalless draw to secure top spot in Group B

BY foxsports • November 16, 2014

BRUSSELS (AP) Wales held Belgium to a goalless draw on Sunday to secure its provisional lead at the top of Group B in its European Championship qualifying campaign.

Against a makeshift Belgian defense, Gareth Bale was the lone threat for the underdogs but could not get past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. At the other end, Eden Hazard again failed to provide the decisive thrust for his country, something he so often does for his club Chelsea.

The draw left Wales with eight points from four games to lead the group ahead of Israel and Cyprus with six points.

Cyprus beat Andorra 5-0, while Israel faces Bosnia-Herzegovina also on Sunday.

Belgium, ranked fourth in the world, has five points from its first three matches.

Wales celebrated the draw at the 45,000-capacity King Baudouin Stadium as a victory which brought it a step closer to qualifying for the 2016 finals.

''To come here and get a point and a clean sheet is massive for us. It keeps our momentum in the group, we haven't lost yet,'' said Wales captain Ashley Williams.

For Belgium, a quarterfinalist at the World Cup, the European qualifying campaign is quickly turning into a disappointment. Despite two teams advancing, it is trailing in the standings.

''You have to win your home games, whatever happens, said Nicolas Lombaerts. The defender came closest to giving Belgium victory when he got the ball from a goalmouth scramble in the 27th minute, turned and rifled a left-footed shot on the inside of the post before it went out of danger.

At the other end, Bale was dangerous but saw his shots well parried by Courtois. And when the Welshman broke through the defense on his own and got the angled shot past Courtois in the 57th minute, the ball just missed the far post.

In Nicosia, George Efrem scored a hat trick against tiny Andorra to keep Cyprus well in the running in the standings.