Belgium beats Serbia 3-0 in WCup qualifier


BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) -Belgium lived up to its reputation as a legitimate contender to reach the 2014 World Cup by beating Serbia 3-0 in a qualifier Friday to take the lead in Group A.

Belgium took the lead against the run of play in the 34th minute on a header by Christian Benteke after a cross by Kevin De Bruyne.

De Bruyne added the second for Belgium in the 68th on a counter attack and Kevin Mirallas netted the third in the 88th with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Serbia had most of the chances in the first half, with Zoran Tosic hitting the post in the second minute. Defender Milan Bisevac's volley went over the bar 30 minutes later.

But after taking the lead, the Belgians controlled the play on the rain-drenched pitch at the Red Star Stadium in the second half as the Serbs desperately looked for an equalizer.

Belgium substitute Eden Hazard missed a chance in the 52nd when he was put through on goal, and Dries Mertens squandered a good opportunity in the 58th.

"We were punished for the misses in the first half," Serbia coach Sinisa Mihajlovic said. "But, there are seven more games to be played in the group and anything is possible."

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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