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ZAGREB, Croatia -- Belgium qualified for the World Cup on Friday, relying on two goals from striker Romelu Lukaku to beat closes

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ZAGREB, Croatia -- Belgium qualified for the World Cup on Friday, relying on two goals from striker Romelu Lukaku to beat closest Group A challenger Croatia 2-1. Jesper Bratt Jersey . Lukaku put Belgium ahead in the 16th minute, when he collected a deep pass from Steven Defour and used his pace to outrun defenders before he faked his way around goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa to put the ball in the empty net. He relied on his speed again in the 38th minute after collecting a pass deep in his own half and chasing the ball down the field. After getting past Pletikosa, he was able to jog with the ball across the line. "With such players around me, it can only be easy," said Lukaku, the Chelsea forward who is on loan at Everton this season. Croatia got a consolation goal from Niko Kranjcar on a long-range effort in the 83rd minute. Belgium has 25 points from nine games and an insurmountable eight-point lead over Croatia to qualify as Group A winner. As soon as the Red Devils had a two-goal lead, it was up to standout goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois of Atletico Madrid and the defensive shield set up by coach Marc Wilmots to keep Belgiums perfect away record intact. Courtois had to slap out a header from Mario Mandzukic close to halftime and, when the lead was down to just one goal with two minutes to go, made a daring dive at the feet of the Bayern Munich striker to prevent an equalizer. "We showed that we could set up a tight organization and counter," Courtois said. Victory also meant that Belgium should end up among the group leaders during the Dec. 6 draw for the 2014 tournament in Brazil. The loss condemned Croatia to the two-game playoffs for runners-up in the European groups next month. "We played against one of the best teams in Europe for counterattacks," Croatia coach Igor Stimac said. Belgium had failed to qualify for an international championship since the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, but the whole nation had anticipated an end to the long wait following the rise of a new standout generation of players. Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo had even travelled especially to Zagreb for the game. Belgian clubs are largely a non-factor in European cup competitions and none of the starting 11 play in their home league. Instead many have become prominent players for top foreign clubs, with household names like Manchester Citys Vincent Kompany, Chelseas Eden Hazard and Courtois. Belgium came to Croatia without injured captain Kompany and Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke, who found a perfect replacement in Lukaku. Wales played Macedonia in a late game that had no bearing on the top of the standings. Sami Vatanen Jersey . The move - the latest twist in Greeces nearly three-year financial freefall -- is the first such action by any of the countrys major sports bodies. It immediately halts all domestic track and field competitions, including track meets May 12-13 in several Greek cities. Scott Stevens Jersey . Pistorius denied the allegation that he said to the close friend of the girlfriend he killed: "How can you sleep at night?" The accusation by Kim Myers provided a bizarre twist during the trial of the world-famous double-amputee Olympian, who is facing 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder for shooting dead Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, at his home last year. http://www.devilssale.com/authentic-jamie-langenbrunner-devils-jersey/ . -- Caris LeVert had 14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for his first career double-double, and No. DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies have faced adversity with injuries all season. Wednesday, they dealt with a little bad luck and let a victory slip away. Daniel Descalsos two-out bloop double hit the line in left field and sparked a two-run eighth inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals rallied late to beat Colorado, 9-6. Drew Stubbs homered and Justin Morneau had two hits for the Rockies, who finished their homestand 1-5. The game featured the major league debuts of both starting pitchers. St. Louis Marco Gonzales was sharp early before faltering. Colorados Yohan Flande also started well before getting hit hard in his last inning. The Cardinals scored twice in the eighth off Adam Ottavino (0-3) on RBI doubles by Descalso and Matt Carpenter to take a win away from Flande. Ottavino was surprised when Descalsos double hit the line. "Honestly, I thought it was a foul ball until the moment that it wasnt," he said. "I wasnt even worried when it was in the air. I dont have any answers for today. I feel horrible that I gave it up. I thought I made good pitches and they found holes." St. Louis added two unearned runs off Nick Masset in the ninth on two of the clubs four sacrifice flies. Pat Neshek (2-0) pitched an inning of relief to earn the win. Trevor Rosenthal got four outs for his 23rd save in 26 chances. Rosenthal walked two batters in the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate. He struck out Troy Tulowitzki on a 100 mph fastball, the 11th pitch of the at-bat, and then Morneau flew out to centre to end it. "I was hoping to come through for the team, get on base, get a hit, get him in deeper water than he was already in," Tulowitzki said. "You could tell they were having meeting after meeting. I was calling time. It was a battle. That was an important out for them. I knew it was an important at-bat for our team. It hurts." Gonzales was unhittable the first time through the Rockies order, pitching near where he was an all-state player for Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colorado, from 2007-10. At one point he threw 12 straightt strikes, and 30 of his first 37 pitches were strikes. Nico Hischier Jersey. He had only one blemish, a one-out walk to DJ LeMahieu in the second. Things unraveled for him in the fourth. Stubbs hit the first pitch of the inning into the seats in left to tie it 1-1. After Tulowitzki fouled out, the next five batters reached base. Corey Dickerson had a two-run double and scored on LeMahieus single, and Josh Rutledge came home on Flandes groundout that made it 5-1. Matt Adams homered and drove in two runs and Matt Holliday had three hits for the Cardinals. Flande is the fourth starting pitcher this month to make his major league debut for the Rockies. Injuries to the staff forced the call-ups, but two of those pitchers -- Eddie Butler and Christian Bergman -- are now injured. Flande allowed just one run through the first four innings before the Cardinals rallied for three in the fifth. Mark Ellis scored on a sacrifice fly, and Adams followed Hollidays double with his third home run of the series to make it 5-4. Flande was touched for four runs and six hits, and he struck out four in five innings. "Flande was outstanding," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I thought he was very good. Gonzales was outstanding the first time through the lineup. We got a few off him, but he hung in, gave his team a chance to win." Gonzales also pitched five innings. He allowed five runs and seven hits, and struck out three. "It was the best day of my life right there," Gonzales said. "It was a blast. A lot of family that I havent seen in a while, a lot of friends flying in from everywhere. Im very grateful for it. "Fortunately I was able to turn a lot of Fort Collins people into Cardinals fans today." NOTES: Dickerson went 13 for 25 during the six-game homestand. ... The Rockies placed Bergman (fractured left wrist) on the 60-day DL. ... Butler (right rotator cuff inflammation) will be shut down for six days before he begins throwing again. ... Colorado LHP Christian Friedrich (0-1, 6.00) will pitch the first of the Rockies four-game set at Milwaukee on Thursday. ' ' '

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