World Cup Soccer
 
                  === Belgium tops Serbia to lead Group A ===
 
 Brussels,  Belgium  (Sports  Network)  -  Belgium  took  another  step  toward
 qualifying  for the 2014 World Cup on Friday as goals from Kevin De Bruyne and
 Marouane  Fellaini gave  the  team a  2-1  win  over Serbia  in  UEFA Group  A
 qualifying.
 
 Belgium  entered  the day level on  points with Croatia, but the win, combined
 with  a surprising 1-0 home defeat for Croatia against Scotland, moves Belgium
 three points clear at the top of the group with three games remaining.
 
 Serbia  came  into  the match  needing  three  points  to  get back  into  the
 discussion  at  the top  of the group,  but the visitors  fell behind after 13
 minutes  when Jan Vertonghen's cross was turned into the net by the head of De
 Bruyne.
 
 A corner kick on the hour mark allowed Belgium to double its lead as De Bruyne
 floated  the ball into  the area, where Fellaini got up to nod the ball inside
 the right post in traffic.
 
 Aleksandar Kolarov made things interesting in the final minutes when he scored
 on  a  free kick in  the 87th minute  for Serbia, but  Belgium held on to move
 closer to its first World Cup appearance since 2002.
 
 Scotland  pulled  off a huge  surprise at Croatia  with a first-half goal from
 Robert  Snodgrass, providing  the  Scots  with their  first  victory in  seven
 qualifiers.
 
 Italy  was only able to move one point further ahead of Bulgaria at the top of
 Group  B as  Mario Balotelli was sent off  in the second half of a 0-0 draw at
 Czech Republic, while Malta topped Armenia, 1-0, in a battle of the bottom two
 sides in the group.
 
 Ireland  and Austria  both secured  three big  points as  they battle  for the
 second position behind Group C leaders Germany.
 
 Austria tallied two goals in the first half and held on for a 2-1 triumph over
 Sweden,  and Robbie Keane netted a hat trick as Ireland coasted past the Faroe
 Islands,  3-0,  leaving both Austria and  Ireland level on 11 points in second
 place.
 
 Albania was poised to climb atop Group E, but the team conceded an 87th-minute
 equalizer  to Norway's Tom Hogli in a 1-1 draw, leaving them one point back of
 Switzerland, which faces Cyprus on Saturday. Slovenia notched a 4-2 at Iceland
 on  Friday as  the team came from a  goal down after 30 minutes to claim three
 points and dent Iceland's hopes of qualification.
 
 Helder Postiga's ninth-minute goal held up as Portugal claimed a vital 1-0 win
 over  Russia to  move two points clear  at the summit in Group F, although the
 Russians  have  two games in  hand. Luxembourg and  Azerbaijan played to a 1-1
 draw in Friday's other Group F match.
 
 Bosnia-Herzegovina  remains  three points clear at  the top of Group G after a
 5-0  thumping of  10-man Latvia  with all  five goals  coming after  halftime.
 Greece  was able  to remain  within three  points of  the leaders  with a  1-0
 victory at Lithuania, while Slovakia earned a 1-1 draw at Liechtenstein.
 
 Montenegro  squandered  a big chance  to go  five points clear of second-place
 England  in Group H  as the club sustained a 4-0 home defeat to Ukraine, which
 moves  to  within three points of  Montenegro. England sits two points back of
 the  leaders with  a game in hand.  Poland also could have moved closer to the
 top,  but a disappointing  1-1 draw at Moldova sees the Poles five points from
 the top.
 
 The  lone match  in Group I saw  Finland down Belarus, 1-0, with the lone goal
 arriving in the 57th minute from Kasper Hamalainen.
 
 06/07 17:48:56 ET

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