Belarus consolidated their grip on second spot in Group D of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying with a hard-earned victory against Luxembourg.
Bernd Stange's side further enhanced their standing in the section with a 1-1 draw against France on Friday and are now just a solitary point adrift of the section leaders, albeit having played a game more. Though slow out of the blocks in Minsk, they prevailed through substitute Sergei Kornilenko – via a penalty – and Anton Putilo after the break.
Luxembourg's sole group point came with a 0-0 draw against Belarus in October and the home side found today's first half just as frustrating. Andrei Voronkov could have given Stange's charges a 12th-minute lead on this occasion but just failed to connect with Igor Shitov's cross. Barring Putilo's shot narrowly over just before the half-hour, Belarus had to wait until after half-time for more noteworthy openings.
They duly made the most of one just three minutes into the second half, Kornilenko dispatching from the penalty spot after a Kevin Malget handball. Kornilenko, only on the pitch for two minutes before scoring, could have added a second soon after but missed the target following Putilo's splendid dribble and cross.
Malget made amends on the hour when he cleared Maksim Bordachev's effort off the line, but a second goal arrived on 73 minutes when the impressive Putilo applied the finishing touch to another mazy run. Belarus will look to keep up the pressure on France when they face Bosnia and Herzegovina on 2 September, the same day Luxembourg play Romania.