Skip to content

Belgium clinch trip to Brazil with win over Croatia

Oct 11, 2013, 1:56 PM EST

Romelu Lukaku AP

Belgium only needed a draw to clinch their spot in the 2014 World Cup. Instead, they took no chances, with Romelu Lukaku scoring two before the halftime whistle. Croatia managed to pull one back in the 83rd minute, but with less than ten minutes left to play, getting two more proved too much. Now, with one game still left to play, the victory in Zagreb solidifies the standings of Group A, putting Belgium in Brazil and Croatia into the playoff round.

Belgium’s first goal, just fifteen minutes into the match, was almost too easy. Ivan Peresic executed a fine pass in midfield — unfortunately for the Croatian, it was a pass directly to Belgian midfielder Steven Defour. Defour quickly sent the ball on to Lukaku, who easily outstripped the Croatian defense. Stipe Pletikosa came out to try and stop the forward, but Lukaku neatly rounded the goalkeeper to put the ball in the back of the net. From the noise that ensued, you’d have thought it was Belgium playing at home rather than Croatia.

Lukaku’s second, too, was just as easy. A free kick to the home side came to absolutely nothing, with Belgium quickly regaining possession in their own half. A few neat passes got the ball to Lukaku in midfield. Again, he simply outran the Croatian defenders, leaving Mateo Kovecic panting in his wake. Again, Pletikosa came out to save, but was unable to smother the ball. Unimpeded, Lukaku simply took the ball again and tapped into an empty net.

Igor Stimac made a couple wise substitutions in the second half, choices so good you almost wondered why, exactly, the players hadn’t been handed starts. Nikola Kalinic came on for the disgraced Peresic to start the second half, Ogejen Vukojevic took the place of Kovacic for the final 25 minutes, and Niko Kranjcar took over for Ivan Rakitic ten minutes later. The substitutes certainly made a difference, but it was too little, too late.

Croatia’s goal didn’t come until the 83rd minute. Domagoj Vida, racing up the right, sent in a lovely cross. It was Kalinic that got in the first shot, but young Thibaut Courtois managed to save. A Belgian defender knocked away the ball, but it fell to Kranjcar, who caught it on the volley to knock in the goal.

Croatia: Pletikosa; Lovren, Corluka, Vida; Strinic, Kovacic (Vukojevic 65), Modric, Vrsaljko; Rakitic (Kranjcar 76), Perisic (Kalinic 46); Mandzukic

Goals: Kranjcar 83′

Belgium: Courtois; Vertonghen, Lombaerts, Van Buyten, Alderweireld; Defour (Dembélé 84), Witsel; De Bruyne (Mirallas 65), Fellaini, Hazard; Lukaku (Chadli 69)

Goals: Lukaku 15′, 38′

Latest Posts
  1. Men in Blazers podcast: Talking FA Cup upsets with guests Andy Lanning, Josh Scobee

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:25 AM EST

    meninblazers

    Super Bowl week brings out two NFL players for the latest podcast.

  2. Gareth Bale dismisses Manchester United speculation, happy at Real Madrid

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:55 AM EST

    Gareth Bale Gareth Bale

    Bale tells Spanish radio station that he’s hanging around in the Spanish capital for some time to come.

  3. Analyzing the Impact/Red Bulls deal: Is Kljestan worth losing Alexander?

    Jan 27, 2015, 11:01 PM EST

    New York Red Bulls v FC Dallas Getty Images

    Already it feels like Montreal has a major chance to be the winner in this deal, and that’s before they do anything with the allocation money.

  4. Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup: LVG squashes Januzaj loan, Campbell heads to La Liga

    Jan 27, 2015, 10:05 PM EST

    Januzaj Getty Images

    It certainly wasn’t the wildest of days for the transfer rumor mill, but Manchester United, Southampton and Crystal Palace all said hello.

  5. Rodgers proud of Liverpool in loss, disappointed by Costa’s dirty play

    Jan 27, 2015, 9:12 PM EST

    Chelsea v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    Surely Brendan Rodgers wouldn’t have been surprised to see Diego Costa’s temper flare up, but it didn’t make him any more understanding.

  6. Report: Arsenal midfielder Zelalem’s U.S. eligibility far from a done deal

    Jan 27, 2015, 8:32 PM EST

    Galatasaray AS v Arsenal FC - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    An ESPN FC report regarding Gedion Zelalem’s U.S. eligibility looks alarming, but is it a cause for concern?

  7. In less than five months, Diego Costa has become Premier League villain No. 1

    Jan 27, 2015, 7:17 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-LCUP-CHELSEA-LIVERPOOL Getty Images

    He’s heinous. He’s prolific. He’s the Luis Suarez of 2015. And he’s making this season worth watching and hating. Unless you’re a Chelsea supporter.

  8. Chelsea’s Mourinho candid as usual after Liverpool win: “My Ramires is back”

    Jan 27, 2015, 6:21 PM EST

    Chelsea v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    Liverpool was the superior team in the first 45 minutes, but couldn’t find the finishing touch.

  9. Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool: Ivanovic ensures Blues trip to Cup final after testy second leg

    Jan 27, 2015, 5:17 PM EST

    Chelsea v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    The Blues won 1-0 on the match and 2-1 on aggregate to move on the League Cup final versus Wednesday’s winner of Spurs and Sheffield United.

  10. Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Ghana and Algeria go through to the knockout rounds

    Jan 27, 2015, 4:12 PM EST

    Equatorial Guinea Soccer African Cup AP

    Six of eight knockout round slots are filled for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, and a couple well-known names are going home.

  11. VIDEO: Hosts Australia set up Asian Cup final against South Korea

    Jan 27, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    FBL-ASIA2015-AUS-UAE FBL-ASIA2015-AUS-UAE

    The Socceroos reached the AFC final for just the second-time in their history.

  12. DeAndre Yedlin on call up to U.S. national team, time at Tottenham so far

    Jan 27, 2015, 2:20 PM EST

    Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy

    Yedlin flies halfway around the world to link up with USMNT after joining Tottenham in January.

  13. Stoke City star Bojan to miss rest of 2014-15 season with knee injury

    Jan 27, 2015, 12:57 PM EST

    Rochdale v Stoke City - FA Cup Fourth Round Getty Images

    Spaniard set to miss at least six months after rupturing anterior cruciate ligament.

  14. New York, Montreal complete huge trade; Kljestan free to join Red Bulls

    Jan 27, 2015, 12:19 PM EST

    Sacha Kljestan, international man of mustache Sacha Kljestan, international man of mustache

    Monster trade sees cash, players and allocation order’s dished out as USMNT midfielder could be heading home.

  15. League Cup semifinals: Chelsea, Liverpool level; Spurs take slender lead to Sheffield

    Jan 27, 2015, 11:10 AM EST

    Wembley final on the line: Premier League giants clash at the Bridge while Spurs head to third-tier Blades.

  16. Real Madrid reveals FIFA investigating 51 of its youth transfers

    Jan 27, 2015, 9:20 AM EST

    Emilio Butragueno, Martin Odegaard Emilio Butragueno, Martin Odegaard

    Madrid say they have “responded diligently” to requests from world soccer’s governing body.

  17. Silly season in full swing: Is Raheem Sterling really heading to Chelsea?

    Jan 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EST

    Raheem Sterling, Liverpool FC Raheem Sterling, Liverpool FC

    As Sterling continues to stall on a new deal, will Chelsea tempt the youngster with a move back to London?

Featured video

Top five Premier League goals: Week 22