Sat, Nov 16, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Falcao leads Colombia to win over Belgium

AP, BRUSSELS

Colombia’s Luis Amaranto Perea, bottom, and Belgium’s Nicolas Lombaerts, top, fight for the ball during their international friendly soccer match at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

Radamel Falcao led Colombia to a 2-0 victory over Belgium in an international friendly between teams ranked in FIFA’s top five 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 his shot deep in the net.

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

Skills run far deeper in the fourth-ranked Colombia team than Falcao and in the 67th minute 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 by Thomas Vermaelen without success in the 76th minute and Dries Mertens’ shot hit the same 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 complete their mini tour of Europe with a game against the Netherlands on Tuesday, while Belgium meet Japan on the same day.

In a sold-out 40,000-capacity King Baudouin Stadium, Belgium wanted to test out second-string goalkeeper Mignolet, but he could do little about the goals.

Especially in the second half, Colombia 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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