Coleman takes positives from Belgium defeat

Chris Coleman was delighted with his Wales players. Photo: PA

Chris Coleman was delighted with his Wales players despite seeing them begin their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-0 defeat against Belgium.

Goals from defensive duo Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen ensured Marc Wilmots' men made the perfect start to their Group A campaign in Cardiff tonight.

Injury-hit Wales showed a steely determination in the early running against their opponents but their good work was undone when James Collins was shown a straight red for a reckless lunge on Guillaume Gillet after 25 minutes.

Wales had been heavy underdogs coming into the game, with Coleman not being helped by an injury list that included Joe Allen, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Hennessey, Neil Taylor, Andrew Crofts and Jack Collison.

Yet Coleman was happy to take the positives after the defeat.

"I'm very, very proud of the players first and foremost. We knew it was going to be a tough game," said the Wales boss.

"Coming into this game at full strength would have been tough but we weren't at full strength and then we go down to 10 men.

"One or two questionable decisions went against us to say the least but the players, to a man I thought, were absolutely magnificent.

"They dug deep, showed a lot of passion, a lot of organisation. We had to.

"We conceded just before half-time which is disappointing because we've done very well from set plays of late.

"But we were in the game and we had to play counter because we were a man short but we saw two or three at the end had no more to give, they were limping but we couldn't take them off because we'd used all our substitutes."

Coleman was unhappy with Collins' sending-off, believing referee Stefan Johannesson reacted too rashly to the West Ham defender's challenge on Gillet.

"For me it's not a sending-off, it's not," he added.

"There were one or two challenges on our boys as well that went unnoticed. The free-kick at the end that they scored from wasn't a free-kick so maybe the referee just had one of those nights.

"He certainly could have been kinder for us but they're a good team."

Manchester City skipper Kompany, who headed Belgium into the lead with a near-post header from Dries Mertens' corner, believed the dismissal of Collins made life harder for the visitors.

"I sometimes wondered if it would have been best for us because we struggle against teams who are very organised and just sit behind," the defender told Sky Sports 1.

"Wales were very organised, fighting for every ball and they just made it tough for us.

"It was a very tricky game."

Kompany added Belgium, who are favourites to qualify from Group A, were below par but was delighted to emerge from Cardiff with three points.

"I think over the years, this team has played very well without getting the result but today was not our best performance but two-nil in Wales is a great result," he said.