BELGRADE, March 30 (Belgrade) - Serbia & Montenegro ground out a 0-0 draw with Spain in an evenly balanced World Cup Group Seven qualifier on Wednesday.
The result leaves Serbia top with 11 points from five games,
two more than Spain who have drawn three of their five matches.
There were few chances but the visitors came close to
breaking the deadlock in the 33rd minute when David Albelda's
flying header forced a good save from Dragoslav Jevric.
The home side, cheered on by a raucous 50,000 home crowd,
responded through left back Mladen Krstajic who headed just over
the bar six minutes later.
Predrag Djordjevic also volleyed narrowly over in the 44th
minute after a delightful through ball by Dejan Stankovic.
Serbia also missed the best chance in the 53rd minute when
Mateja Kezman hit the post with only the keeper to beat after a
defence-splitting pass from strike partner Savo Milosevic.
Spain missed a sitter on the hour when second half
substitute Juanito fired wildly over the bar from close range
after a good low cross from Raul.
Fernando Torres had the goal at his mercy in the 70th minute
but rifled way over after robbing the Serbian defence of the
ball in the penalty box.
Spain manager Luis Aragones was pleased with how his team
defended in the early stages of both halves.
'We came under intense pressure in the first 15 minutes of
both periods but we were very well organised and managed to hold
off a fierce onslaught by the hosts,' he said.
'We had several good chances and it's a pity we didn't take
them. They stifled us out up front for most of the match but we
can't complain because it was a difficult match and a fair
result all things considered,' added Aragones.
Serbia & Montenegro manager Ilija Petkovic said: 'We played
a high-class team and we found it really difficult to cope with
their all-round skill. I dare not be unhappy with the result
because we stayed unbeaten against a very good team.'
'The result keeps us on course to qualify for the World Cup
finals and we're looking forward to the upcoming matches in our
group,' he added.
Serbia host Belgium in their next qualifier on June 4
followed by the visit of Lithuania on September 3.