ASTANA (Reuters) - Montenegro kept alive their hopes of reaching a first major tournament as an independent nation after clinical finishing gave them a 3-0 away win over Kazakhstan in an entertaining World Cup Group E qualifier on Friday.
The result left the Montenegrins - an Adriatic nation with a population of under 700,000 - second in the group on 13 points from seven games, three behind leaders Poland who were playing third-placed Denmark (10 points) later.
The wasteful Kazakhs squandered a string of chances and were ruthlessly punished as the visitors took theirs through Rade Vesovic, Fatos Beqiraj and Marko Simic.
Forward Vesovic opened the scoring in the 31st minute, racing clear of his marker and beating goalkeeper David Loriya with a clever finish after a defence-splitting pass from captain Stevan Jovetic.
The home side piled on the pressure after the break and missed two sitters before striker Beqiraj headed home Marko Jankovic’s inswinging cross at the other end.
Versatile midfielder Jankovic displayed his set-piece skills again shortly after the hour, floating in another free kick for central defender Simic to score his first international goal with a thumping downward header.
Montenegro play Romania at home on Monday while Kazakhstan visit Poland.
Reporting by Zoran Milosavljevic, Editing by Ed Osmond