Serbia's first home game as a separate nation was a happy affair as they moved to the top of UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying Group A with victory against Belgium.
Both these sides had four points from two outings at kick-off, and Finland's draw in Armenia earlier on meant a success would secure pole position for the winners in Belgrade. Nikola Žigić's 54th-minute goal ensured that the leaders would be Serbia.
Defence made to work
The hosts began brightly and Belgium's Germany-based central defence of Daniel Van Buyten and Vincent Kompany were kept busy in the opening stages, clearing and intercepting on several occasions. Aleksandar Trišović was first to threaten but shot over from distance, while at the other end Emile Mpenza, ending a year away from international football, carved out a chance but was denied in a crowded box by defender Mladen Krstajić.
Belgium goalkeeper Stijn Stijnen did well to keep out a Dejan Stanković free-kick and Trišović threatened twice more before the break, but the last opportunity of the first half fell to Van Buyten, who missed from five metres. Serbia resumed their superiority after the interval and Žigić finally broke through, shooting in following Trišović's pass.
Visitors come close
Now the visitors had to press and Carl Hoefkens turned a Moussa Dembélé centre on to the crossbar. Bart Goor and Mpenza also went close, while at the other end Nemanja Vidić hit the woodwork with a header. Serbia were hanging on, but after Belgium substitute Kevin Vandenbergh struck the upright in stoppage time, the win was sealed. Armenia come to Belgrade on Wednesday when Belgium welcome Azerbaijan.