Belgium 2-0 Scotland: Scots suffer humbling defeat in Brussels
Scotland's chances of reaching the next World Cup were all but ended in Brussels as Belgium underlined their status as one of the most exciting sides in Europe.
Scottish resistance was broken on 69 minutes when Christian Benteke powered in a close-range header.
And skipper Vincent Kompany hammered in a fierce shot soon after.
Craig Levein will now face questions about his future, with the Scots having amassed two points from four matches.
The match was widely billed as Levein's last stand, with the under-fire coach admitting a victory was necessary after failing to win a game in what was just about the gentlest opening to World Cup qualification possible.
The enormity of the task facing the Scots was underlined when it was revealed the in-form hosts could afford to leave Chelsea's £30m star Eden Hazard on the bench.
With Axel Witsel, who has an even higher price tag, running the show in the middle of the park, Belgium started like an express train and Allan McGregor had made a string of fabulous saves inside a breathless first 15 minutes.
The Besiktas keeper made an astonishing double stop to deny Dries Mertens and continued to repel wave after wave of attacks from the men in red.
Galloping full-back Jan Vertonghen shot over from a tight angle and Nacer Chadli could not force the ball in from close range after a rare misjudgement from McGregor had allowed a Kevin De Bruyne cross to reach the back post.
With Darren Fletcher and James McArthur being over-run in the middle of the park, James Morrison had to drop deeper to offer support, meaning Scotland striker Steven Fletcher was an isolated figure.
But the visitors did threaten from a long-range Shaun Maloney free-kick that was tipped away by the giant Thibaut Courtois.
Belgium responded swiftly, with Moussa Dembele and Mertens both shooting narrowly wide, while Benteke headed over and Danny Fox made a crucial tackle to thwart Chadli on the six-yard line.
During that late first-half onslaught on McGregor's goal, Kris Commons had Courtois at full-stretch again to push away another good Scottish free-kick as the visitors mounted a rare attack.
Hazard was introduced for the second half and fizzed in a shot that was blocked by Gary Caldwell in front of McGregor, shortly after Benteke had skimmed the crossbar with a header.
Hazard curled a free-kick wide as the home crowd started to grow a little nervous about the stalemate.
However, two goals inside three minutes had the noise levels cranked right up again and buried Scotland's chances of taking anything from the match.
McGregor pushed away an awkward shot from De Bruyne but could do nothing as the same player found Benteke at the back post with a lovely cross and the Aston Villa striker nodded home powerfully.
Kompany was then given far too much room to turn and blaze a shot high into the net from 15 yards.
McGregor had no time to feel sorry for himself as he got down to smother another Hazard strike and the Chelsea man thumped a free-kick over as Scotland failed to make any kind of dent in the home defence.
Scotland are now bottom of Group A after four matches, with the visit of Wales in March up next and a mountain to climb if any pride is to be salvaged from the campaign.
- 01 Courtois
- 02 Alderweireld
- 03 Vermaelen
- 04 Kompany
- 05 Vertonghen
- 06 Witsel
- 11 Chadli Booked
- 14 Mertens (Mirallas - 55' )
- 07 De Bruyne
- 08 Dembele (Hazard - 45' )
- 09 Benteke (Ilombe - 86' )
- 12 Mignolet
- 21 J-F Gillet
- 13 Ciman
- 16 Van Buyten
- 19 Lombaerts
- 23 G Gillet
- 10 Hazard
- 18 Defour
- 22 Simons
- 15 Ilombe
- 17 Mirallas
- 20 Vossen
- 01 McGregor Booked
- 02 Hutton
- 04 Berra
- 05 Caldwell
- 20 Fox
- 06 Maloney
- 07 D Fletcher
- 11 Morrison (M Phillips - 79' )
- 13 McArthur
- 15 Commons (Mackie - 45' )
- 09 S Fletcher (Miller - 76' )
- 12 Gilks
- 21 Marshall
- 03 Mulgrew
- 17 R Martin
- 19 Webster
- 08 Cowie
- 10 Adam
- 18 M Phillips
- 14 Miller
- 16 Mackie
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The final whistle is blown by the referee.86:57
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Eden Hazard by James McArthur. Eden Hazard shoots direct from the free kick.85:57 Substitution
Substitution Ilombe M'Boyo on for Christian Benteke.85:21
Unfair challenge on Gary Caldwell by Christian Benteke results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Christophe Berra.84:54
Effort on goal by Alan Hutton from inside the penalty box misses to the right of the target.81:19
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Axel Witsel by Matt Phillips. Axel Witsel restarts play with the free kick.80:11
Christophe Berra takes the free kick.80:11 Booking
Booking The referee cautions Nacer Chadli for unsporting behaviour.80:05
Free kick awarded for a foul by Nacer Chadli on Shaun Maloney.78:53 Substitution
Substitution James Morrison leaves the field to be replaced by Matt Phillips.77:07
Free kick awarded for a foul by Toby Alderweireld on Darren Fletcher. Daniel Fox restarts play with the free kick.75:40
The assistant referee flags for offside against Nacer Chadli. Indirect free kick taken by Allan McGregor.75:01 Substitution
Substitution Kenny Miller is brought on as a substitute for Steven Fletcher.74:07
Jamie Mackie challenges Jan Vertonghen unfairly and gives away a free kick. Axel Witsel restarts play with the free kick.73:47
Eden Hazard takes a shot. Save by Allan McGregor.72:25
Christian Benteke is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Direct free kick taken by James McArthur.70:35
Assist on the goal came from Eden Hazard.70:35 Goal scored
Goal! - Vincent Kompany - Belgium 2 - 0 Scotland A goal is scored by Vincent Kompany from the edge of the penalty area to the top right corner of the goal. Belgium 2-0 Scotland.69:58
Kevin De Bruyne takes a outswinging corner.68:22
Assist by Kevin De Bruyne.
Goal! - Christian Benteke - Belgium 1 - 0 Scotland Christian Benteke grabs a headed goal from close in. Belgium 1-0 Scotland.68:16
The ball is swung over by Kevin De Bruyne,67:59
Short corner worked by Kevin De Bruyne.66:15
Kevin De Bruyne takes a shot. Save made by Allan McGregor. Free kick awarded for a foul by Christian Benteke on Gary Caldwell. Allan McGregor takes the free kick.64:19
Unfair challenge on Axel Witsel by James McArthur results in a free kick. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Eden Hazard.63:06
Shaun Maloney takes the outswinging corner, Header from deep inside the penalty area by Gary Caldwell goes harmlessly over the crossbar.62:27
Daniel Fox challenges Thomas Vermaelen unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Toby Alderweireld.60:25
Thomas Vermaelen concedes a free kick for a foul on Darren Fletcher. Gary Caldwell takes the direct free kick.60:25 Booking
Booking Booking for Allan McGregor.60:03
The ball is swung over by Jan Vertonghen.54:47
The free kick is delivered right-footed by Kevin De Bruyne from left channel.54:47 Substitution
Substitution Kevin Mirallas comes on in place of Dries Mertens.54:47
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Dries Mertens by Gary Caldwell.52:04
Handball by Steven Fletcher. Direct free kick taken by Axel Witsel.51:52
Christian Benteke is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Allan McGregor takes the indirect free kick.51:28
Eden Hazard takes a shot. Gary Caldwell gets a block in.51:01
Kevin De Bruyne takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Darren Fletcher.49:00
The ball is swung over by Toby Alderweireld, Christian Benteke takes a shot.47:25
Toby Alderweireld challenges Shaun Maloney unfairly and gives away a free kick. Daniel Fox takes the free kick.45:01
The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.45:00 +1:05 Half time
Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.45:00 Substitution
Substitution Kris Commons goes off and Jamie Mackie comes on.45:00 Substitution
Substitution Eden Hazard on for Moussa Dembele.43:43
Christian Benteke produces a header from close range which goes wide of the left-hand post.40:53
Moussa Dembele challenges Shaun Maloney unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Kris Commons, save by Thibaut Courtois. Corner taken right-footed by Kris Commons, save made by Thibaut Courtois.38:59
James McArthur fouled by Nacer Chadli, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Darren Fletcher. Unfair challenge on Vincent Kompany by Christophe Berra results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Thibaut Courtois.38:24
Foul by Christian Benteke on Alan Hutton, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Allan McGregor.37:41
Unfair challenge on Jan Vertonghen by Steven Fletcher results in a free kick. Jan Vertonghen restarts play with the free kick.37:12
Moussa Dembele has a shot on goal from outside the box which misses left.33:22
Dries Mertens has a shot on goal from outside the box which misses right.32:42
Effort from outside the penalty box by Moussa Dembele goes wide right of the target.32:01
Foul by Darren Fletcher on Moussa Dembele, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Thomas Vermaelen.31:26
Toby Alderweireld challenges Shaun Maloney unfairly and gives away a free kick. Daniel Fox takes the free kick.28:48
Corner taken by Kevin De Bruyne from the right by-line.27:08
Axel Witsel is adjudged to have handled the ball. Free kick taken by Gary Caldwell.26:27
Effort from the edge of the penalty box by Nacer Chadli goes wide of the right-hand upright.23:40
Corner taken by Kris Commons, save by Thibaut Courtois.22:35
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kris Commons by Moussa Dembele. Shaun Maloney fires a strike on goal direct from the free kick, save by Thibaut Courtois.18:51
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Shaun Maloney by Axel Witsel. Gary Caldwell takes the free kick.18:21
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Kevin De Bruyne, Christophe Berra makes a clearance.17:05
Effort from inside the area by Jan Vertonghen misses to the left of the goal.16:37
The assistant referee signals for offside against James Morrison. Indirect free kick taken by Thibaut Courtois.15:38
Shot on goal by Axel Witsel from long range goes harmlessly over the target.11:24
Kevin De Bruyne gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Shaun Maloney. Allan McGregor restarts play with the free kick.9:18
Nacer Chadli takes a shot. Save by Allan McGregor.8:14
Christian Benteke is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Christophe Berra.3:43
Free kick awarded for a foul by Nacer Chadli on James McArthur. Direct free kick taken by Allan McGregor.2:05
Dries Mertens takes a shot. Save by Allan McGregor. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Jan Vertonghen, Nacer Chadli produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.0:00
The referee gets the match started.
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