BUFFEL HELPS BELGIAN STAY ALIVE

Belgium bustled past Croatia in Brussels Wednesday to keep alive the country’s faint hopes of a place in the Euro 2004 playoffs. Feyenoord striker Thomas Buffel proved satisfied with the 2-1 win, after a 0-4 loss in Zagreb at the end of March. ‘It was a really tough match, but we showed what we can do today,’ reflected Buffel, who partnered two-goal hit man Wesley Sonck in attack for the Red Devils.

The Belgians went into the game needing three points to avoid immediate elimination, and a strike either side of the break by Sonck nosed the home side ahead, although the win was never secure until the final whistle. ‘When the pace slacked they always looked dangerous,’ admitted Buffel. ‘Thankfully we got more room in the second half, but it remained difficult.’ Strike partner Sonck pointed up the value of the diminutive upfront tandem. ‘The ‘little’ men have done it again. Things have clicked between us,’ Sonck told VRT.

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