World Cup 2006

Qualifying match

Belgium 0 - Spain 2

Belgium: Proto; Vanden Borre (Deflandre 63'), Hoefkens, Van Buyten, Deschacht; Buffel (Walasiak 63'), Vanderhaege, Simons, Goor, Emile Mpenza, Mbo Mpenza (Pieroni 76'). 4-4-2.
Spain: Casillas; Míchel Salgado, Puyol, Marchena, Antonio López; Albelda, Xavi; Joaquín (David Villa 55'), Raúl, Vicente (Reyes 55'); Fernando Torres (Baraja 70'). 4-2-3-1.

0-1. 56. Fernando Torres. First time volley on far post from long Reyes pass.
0-2. 59. Fernando Torres. Got on the end of Reyes cross to turn ball past Proto.

Two goals in three minutes from Fernando Torres took Spain a step closer to a place in next summer's World Cup. With Serbia and Bosnia winning earlier in the day, Luis Aragonés's side needed a victory themselves against Belgium to be virtually sure of finishing in the top two. But they were under pressure early on, and could have gone behind had Goor and Vanden Borre been able to find the target. And Casillas had to be at his best to tip a dangerous shot from Buffel over the bar.

Gradually though Spain worked their way back, Albelda getting the ball in to the net only for the referee to spot that he did so with a little help from his hand, and then bringing a good save out of Proto. And Raúl also went close with a couple of efforts before the half time whistle.

Ten minutes in to the second half Aragonés decided to dispense with his wingers to bring on two new forwards, Reyes and Villa, and it proved to be the turning point of the match. Within a minute Reyes had set up Fernando Torres for him to steer a spectacular first time shot wide of the keeper, and three minutes later the two former youth internationals combined again for Torres to get his second of the night.

After that there was no return for the hosts, although Goor did give the 12,000 or so Spanish fans in the crowd a scare when he tested Casillas again, and could well have had a penalty in the same incident. But Villa should have made it three when he was unable to finish after Reyes put him through, and Baraja headed a Reyes free kick against the outside of the post in the final minutes.

Spain had done enough though, and they now only have to beat minnows San Marino in their last game next Wednesday to finish as runners up and qualify for the play-offs. And they even have an outside chance of winning the group if Serbia don't beat Bosnia on the same day. They are not in Germany yet for sure, but there were relieved faces all round.