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Belgium miss chance to topple Turkey

Belgium 1-1 Turkey
The visitors came away from Brussels with a point but only by virtue of Axel Witsel firing a spot kick over the crossbar with 15 minutes left.

Axel Witsel (left) tussles with Turkey's Servet Çetin
Axel Witsel (left) tussles with Turkey's Servet Çetin ©Getty Images

Axel Witsel's penalty miss cost Belgium victory in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group A and leaves the Red Devils anxiously looking over their shoulder at Turkey in the hunt for a play-off spot.

The R. Standard de Liège midfielder fired his spot kick over the crossbar with 15 minutes left after Arda Turan had fouled Dries Mertens. With the score level at 1-1 – Burak Yılmaz having cancelled out Marvin Ogunjimi's fourth-minute opener – a winning goal would have given Georges Leekens's second-placed side a three-point advantage over Turkey; as it is they are a point clear having played a game more.

Belgium got off to the perfect start thanks to Ogunjimi, who was in the right place to dispatch the ball after Nacer Chadli had headed Steven Defour's cross from the right into his path. Three minutes after his opener, Ogunjimi, unmarked, was denied a second by the impressive Volkan Demirel.

That, like the penalty, was to prove costly as Turkey equalised midway through the first half with one of the few chances they fashioned, Arda getting in behind the Belgium defence and pulling the ball back for Burak. Thereafter it was all Belgium, Eden Hazard dribbling through the Turkey defence and firing over, before his replacement Mertens did likewise but had his shot from the edge of the penalty area saved by Volkan.

With Germany well clear at the summit after a sixth successive Group A victory, the race for the runners-up spot in the section resumes on 2 September when Belgium visit Azerbaijan and Turkey welcome Kazakhstan.

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