A Daniel Van Buyten goal ensured Belgium returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Armenia. René Vandereycken's team could only draw 0-0 with Kazakhstan in their opening UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifier on 16 August, yet they managed three points in Yerevan despite not having things all their own way.
The Armenians, playing their first game in the section, held their own in an opening half-hour of limited opportunities. Midfielder Hamlet Mkhitaryan hit a left-footed shot over the bar for the hosts, while at the other end Luigi Pieroni and Karel Geraerts fired wide of Gevorg Kasparov's goal.
Samvel Melkonyan then sent a right-footed effort wide of Belgium keeper Stijn Stijnen before visiting forward Pieroni forced the first save of note in the 30th minute, Kasparov smothering his left-footed strike from outside the box. The Armenia custodian was called into action by the same player five minutes later, this time denying Pieroni with his feet.
Pressure pays off
R. Standard de Liège midfielder Geraerts then volleyed wide as the visitors continued to pepper the hosts' goal. The Belgians reaped the reward for their pressure four minutes before half-time when Van Buyten's header from Jelle Van Damme's cross found the top corner.
In the second period, Feyenoord defender Pieter Collen was forced off through injury just before the hour, with Anderlecht's Anthony Vanden Borre coming on. Despite the enforced switch, the Belgians coped comfortably with Armenia's attemps to restore parity to secure the first win of their Group A campaign.