BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Colombia handed wasteful Belgium their first setback in a year with a 2-0 friendly win on Thursday thanks to goals by Radamel Falcao and Victor Ibarbo as the World Cup-bound teams began preparing for the 2014 finals.
Falcao struck six minutes after the break when he sprung the offside trap and beat goalkeeper Simon Mignolet while substitute Ibarbo fired home the second from close range in the 66th.
“The big difference today was the efficiency,” Belgium midfielder Steven Defour told broadcaster VRT. “With the chances they got they scored twice and we didn’t score with the ones we created. That means you’re playing against a top team.”
The hosts started strongly and had their first chance in the sixth minute when a cross from Thomas Meunier, the Bruges defender making his debut, found striker Christian Benteke in front of goal but he headed just wide of the target.
Benteke missed a similar chance in the 40th minute after a Marouane Fellaini cross to leave the match goalless at halftime.
Belgium, with a makeshift defense as a result of injuries to Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Lombaerts and Daniel Van Buyten, had had little trouble keeping Falcao in check during the first half and allowed the visitors barely an attempt on goal.
But Falcao, joint top scorer in France with nine goals for Monaco, soon opened the scoring against the run of play when he managed to stay onside and outwitted Mignolet in the 51st.
Belgium looked in increasingly vulnerable after the goal and Colombia’s Juan Guillermo Cuadrado had to be denied by Mignolet moments later after a spectacular dribble through the defense.
Colombia, runners-up to Argentina in the South American World Cup qualifiers, got their second goal when Ibarbo thumped the ball home from inside the penalty area after a free kick.
Belgium, unbeaten in their World Cup Group A qualifying campaign and whose last defeat was exactly a year ago in a 2-1 reverse away to Romania in a friendly, missed another chance when Fellaini hit the woodwork in the 75th minute.
Dries Mertens also hit a post seven minutes later.
The clash between teams ranked fifth and fourth in the world by FIFA was the start of their build-up to next year’s World Cup in Brazil after a long absence from the tournament.
Belgium have qualified for the first time since 2002 while Colombia, spearheaded by Falcao who is ably supported by Jackson Martinez and Cuadrado, will end a 16-year absence.
Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek, additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Ken Ferris