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WC Qualification Europe

  • 7 September 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff (Caerdydd)
  • Referee: S. Johannesson
  • • Attendance: 16557
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Wales 0-2 Belgium: Kompany header & Vertonghen piledriver down 10-man hosts

Wales 0-2 Belgium: Kompany header & Vertonghen piledriver down 10-man hosts

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James Collins' red card derailed what looked to be a promising evening for the hosts, as the visitors were given a fairly easy ride to pick up three points in the opening qualifier

A 10-man Wales side were thoroughly beaten by an impressive Belgium side, with goals from Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen easing them to victory.

James Collins picked up an early red card to give the visitors a fairly simple night of ball retention, though chances were lacking as a header from the Manchester City captain and a late free-kick from the Spurs new-boy were enough to see them gain all three points.

Joe Allen was a surprise absentee from the Welsh starting line-up, pulling out due to a virus - with Swansea defender Ashley Williams forced into a holding midfield role.

Belgium named a full strength line-up, including no less than eight Premier League players in their starting lineup - including Chelsea's on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois - andZenit St Petersburg's new £32 million signing Axel Witsel.

The first chance of the evening fell to David Edwards in the 10th minute after a long free kick was flicked on well by Steve Morison. When Guillaume Gillet attempted to nod back to Courtois, he left it short, with Edwards just unable to get around the ball and could only pop it into the side netting.

Marouane Fellaini's first involvement was to irritate the referee, and he could count himself a little lucky not to get booked after cynically leaving a leg in to trip Aaron Ramsey.

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Gareth Bale then brought the hosts another half-chance, as he burst past Eden Hazard on the right-wing, getting to the byline before poking a cross towards Simon Church that just evaded him.

Collins came to the rescue for Wales, throwing himself at a Dries Mertens cross and getting a block in on Thomas Vermaelen's header that prevented a certain goal before turning villain and jumping into a challenge on Gillet and giving the referee Stefan Johannesson‎ little choice but to send him off.

Belgium began to take advantage, pressing more than they had been in the opening half hour, with the corner count steadily increasing.

Bale almost earned an unlikely opener as he chased down a long ball all the way to Courtois, and blocked the keeper's attempted clearance, but was adjudged to have had his feet too high.

And with five minutes until half-time, the visitors took the lead. Mertens' delivery from yet another corner was fierce, with Kompany nodding in the front post.

The opening 15 minutes of the second half were entirely Belgium's, and they almost grabbed a goal as Vertonghen aimed a low effort at the near post when a ball across the box would have been more beneficial.

And just before the hour mark Courtois was properly tested for the first time, with Bale hitting a vicious free kick from distance that he pushed around his post.

The game soon settled back into a similar rhythm with Witzel and Dembele dictating the tempo well before the Spurs man was subbed.

With the game closing out, the referee was earning plenty of abuse from the home fans as he refused to give Church a free kick for a blatant shove from Kompany, before giving Belgium a soft one as Romelu Lukaku feigned to shoot and caught his leg on Ramsey, losing his balance.

The resulting effort from Vertonghen was terrifying, as he ripped a brilliant strike into the far corner after Hazard touched it to the side for him in the 82nd minute.

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