A second-half volley from Wesley Sonck allowed Belgium to scrape a 1-0 win over Andorra in a EURO 2004™ Group 8 qualifier at the Communal stadium tonight.
Dull and defensive
Sonck’s goal spared Belgian blushes as he rifled in a shot after being found by a quick throw-in in the 61st minute of an otherwise dull and defensive match. The goal dismayed the Andorran part-timers who thought the referee had blown for an offence before the ball hit the back of the net.
The victory gave Belgium the first points of their qualification campaign in a group topped by Bulgaria after they surprised the Belgians 2-0 last month. It was Belgium's first win under new coach Aimé Anthuenis.
The Red Devils began in timid fashion and looked to the wings and set-pieces to open up the packed Andorra defence, but lacked real penetration. Andorra lost lone striker Juli Fernández in the sixth minute when he collided with team-mate Oscar Sonejee which only encouraged them to adopt an even more defensive approach. Belgium did manage to score in the 20th minute, but Thomas Buffel's goal was disallowed for offside.
Eight minutes later Belgium threatened once again when Bart Goor escaped on the left and clipped in a cross to the far post for the advancing Sonck. But the unmarked striker failed to make contact and the ball swerved out of play. The game came to life in the final ten minutes of the first half when Yves Vanderhaeghe forced a sharp save from Andorra goalkeeper Koldo Alvarez and defender Olivier De Cock hit the post.
But the clearest scoring chance of the half fell to Andorra when Fernando Silva briefly escaped the attentions of the Belgian defence but only succeeded in sending a tame shot into the hands of goalkeeper Geert De Vlieger. The pace dropped once more after the break and it was only Sonck's classy strike that livened up an otherwise uneventful second half.