Belgium 2, Iraq 1
TOLUCA, Mexico (AP) _ Goals by Enzo Scifo and Nico Claesen gave Belgium a 2-1 World Cup soccer victory over Iraq, virtually eliminating the Iraqis from the competition.
The triumph gave Belgium two points in Group B, keeping it in the running for advancing to the second round. Iraq has lost twice and has only a longshot chance of moving on as one of the four best third-place teams.
Both teams were without key players. Iraq’s star forward Hussein Saeed was scratched with a right ankle injury, while Belgium was missing striker Erwin Vandenbergh, who was suffering from knee cartilage damage incurred in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico.
The game started slowly, then the Belgians picked up the pace and the Iraqis had trouble staying with the them.
Belgium made i 1-0 in the 16th minute. A cross-field pass from captain Jan Ceulemans found Scifo unguarded on the edge of the penalty area. Scifo powered a right-footed drive from the edge of the penalty area past goalkeeper Raad Hammoudi.
Four minutes later, it was 2-0. Iraq’s Khalil Allawi fouled Frank Vercauteren in the penalty area and referee Jesus Palacio of Colombia awarded a penalty kick.
Nico Claesen converted after Hammoudi was warned for protesting. Claesen’s kick soared to the goalie’s left as Hammoudi moved right.
In the 50th minute of the rough game, Iraq’s Basil Gorgis was ejected for fouling Scifo and then protesting. Iraq played the last 40 minutes with 10 men.
But the Iraqis still managed the better scoring opportunties and finally got a goal at 57 minutes. Nateq Hashem hit Ahmed Radi with a pass on the edge of the penalty area and Radi exploited a slow Belgian defense, slamming a shot into the net past goalie Jean-Marie Pfaff.
Ali Hussein nearly put Iraq even, but his fine long-range shot was saved by Pfaff with a full stretch.
Five Iraqi players received warnings in the game.