Belgium Defeats Spain, 5-4, on Penalty Kicks and Pfaff’s Strong Goalkeeping

<i> Associated Press </i>

Belgium, letting youthful shooters and a veteran goalkeeper lead the way, scored its second big upset of the World Cup Sunday.

Leo Van Der Elst capped a perfect round of penalty-kick shooting, while goalie Jean-Marie Pfaff stopped Eloy Olaya’s shot, lifting Belgium to a 5-4 victory over Spain and into the World Cup semifinals for the first time.

The game was tied, 1-1, through regulation and two 15-minute overtimes. Then Belgium clinched the win as Pfaff, who had been resourceful throughout the match, stopped the second Spanish penalty kick, by Olaya, and none of Belgium’s shooters missed.

“I knew I only had to stop one penalty, because I was sure my teammates would make them all,” Pfaff said.

Coach Guy Thys used most of his youngest players to take the penalty kicks.


“The penalties were incredible because we had to rely on our young players to do it,” Thys said. “Some of the veterans said they were too afraid.”

In the semifinals at Aztec Stadium on Wednesday, Belgium will meet Argentina, which beat England, 2-1, Sunday.

“We should not think that this (result) is enough,” Thys said. “We should not have any complexes about taking on Argentina. Maybe we can beat them.

“We have to continue to believe in ourselves. If we can do that, we can go far.”

The Belgians already have gone beyond what anyone expected after a third-place finish in the first round.

Juan Senor, who scored Spain’s regulation-time goal, opened the shootout by going to the right as Pfaff dived left. But Belgium’s Nico Claesen matched that successful kick.

Then Pfaff made a lunging stop on Olaya, and Enzo Scifo put his shot high into the net to give Belgium the edge.

Miguel Porlan of Spain and Hugo Broos of Belgium scored, then Spanish scoring star Emilio Butragueno put one in the upper corner of the net.

Patrick Vervoort sent a hard kick down the middle as goalie Andoni Zubizarreta fell to his left. When Victor Munoz beat Pfaff, it left matters in the hands of Van Der Elst--and he didn’t miss.

“I do not consider this a defeat,” Spanish Coach Miguel Munoz said. “It is a great success for our team because we are leaving the World Cup virtually undefeated.”

Spain had attacked relentlessly for the tying goal in the second half, but Pfaff held off the Spaniards with several spectacular saves. However, he could do nothing on a 30-yard blast by Senor with five minutes left because he was screened by another Spanish player.

Belgium had taken the lead in the 34th minute on a goal by captain Jan Ceulemans.