Spain: Casillas; Salgado, Puyol, Marchena, Del
Horno; Albelda (Xabi Alonso 58'), Xavi (Baraja 74'); Joaquín,
Raúl, Reyes; Fernando Torres (Luque 53'). 4-2-3-1.
Belgium: Peersman; Deflandre, Kompany, Van Buyten, Deschacht; Bisconti (Doll 58'), Clement; Buffel (Dufel 74'), Mbo Mpenza (Huysegems 74'), Goor; Sonck. 4-2-3-1.
1-0. 59. Luque. Controlled Reyes pass on thigh and fired shot past Peersman.
2-0. 63. Raúl. Directed header down into bottom corner from Salgado cross.
Spain beat Belgium 2-0 to record their first win in the qualifying stage. Luis Aragonés made five changes from the side which drew with Bosnia last month, with Xavi coming straight in to the starting line up after not featuring in earlier squads, and Raúl and Fernando Torres up front. Yeste and Tamudo were left in the stands, the former having just recovered from gastric enteritis and the latter with a damaged wrist.
Torres almost got Spain off the mark in the first minute after keeper Peersman misjudged a high ball, and Reyes and Xavi both had efforts in the first quarter, the Arsenal striker shooting just wide and the Barcelona midfielder bringing a good save out of the keeper. But after that the game became scrappy, Belgium fighting their way back in to the game despite having Deflandre sent off for arguing too strongly with referee Kim Nielsen after being shown a yellow card.
Aragonés decided on a first change early in the second half, Luque coming on for Fernando Torres. It proved to be a master stroke, the Deportivo forward making the breakthrough six minutes later with his first goal for Spain after Reyes lifted the ball over the defence. And only four minutes later Spain were two up, Raúl getting his fortieth goal for his country after heading Salgado's cross down past Peersman.
A few minutes later Belgium were left with nine men when Goor got his marching orders for spitting at Xavi, but they didn't give up at first, and Sonck almost surprised Casillas with a long shot. However Aragonés changed his two midfielders Albelda and Xavi, and their replacements both came close to scoring, Xabi Alonso shooting wide and Baraja having a low shot turned round the post by Peersman.
The game though was virtually over, and the Spaniards could have scored again had Luque tried his luck instead of trying to find Reyes. Raúl did scramble the ball in the net after Peersman could only punch up a fierce shot from Joaquín, but Nielsen correctly ruled it out for a foul on the keeper. But soon afterwards the final whistle went, leaving Spain in a three-way tie at the top of group VII with Serbia, who drew 0-0 at Bosnia, and with Lithuania, who they will meet next Wednesday in Vilnius.