Belgium outclass Scotland to make it four from four
European Chmpionship qualifying Group I - Belgium 3 (Lukaku 45+1', 57, De Bruyne 90+2) Scotland 0
Two goals from Romelu Lukaku and one from Kevin de Bruyne eased Belgium past a committed but painfully overmatched Scotland. They now top the group with four wins from four games, while Scotland sit in fourth place, level on points with Khazakhstan and three behind Russia.
The first half offered the semblance of a contest, Oliver Burke missing a chance for Scotland, who did a fair job of shutting down their illustrious opponents. But just as they looked likely to go in level at the break, Lukaku took advantage of fine foraging by the brothers Hazard to head home an injury-time opener.
In the second half, Scotland could get nothing going, and on 57 minutes Lukaku scored again, tapping in after David Marshall saved De Bruyne's shot. From there, they'll have been pleased to escape with 3-0 - Marshall made a succession of saves - but just before time, De Bruyne planted a fine shot past him so that the scoreline more accurately reflected the balance of play.
How do Belgium take the next step? There is not the slightest doubt that Belgium will qualify for next summer's party, but in each of their last three tournaments, they've folded at a crucial juncture. Roberto Martinez needs to give them the confidence to play their game against any opponent they face, and find the combination which best suits his best players - the 3-4-2-1 he used tonight was more than enough for Scotland, but probably isn't it.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Eden Hazard (Belgium) Kevin de Bruyne was equally good, but Hazard shades it for contributing to the opening goal. A bouncing, scooting menace who looks ready to raise it another level.
Scotland: Marshall 8, O'Donnell 6, Mulgrew 6, McKenna 6, Taylor 7, McLean 5, McTominay 5, Armstrong 5, Russell 5, Burke 5, McGregor 5. Subs: Fraser 6, Forrest 6
Romelu Lukaku has scored 24 times in his last 21 international appearances.
Scotland have lost their last five games against Belgium. Their losing streak is matched only by the five straight games lost to Denmark and bettered only by the six straight games lost to Brazil.
9’ - Nice from Armstrong, sticking a ball in behind Kompany for Burke who, 20 yards out, snatches at the opportunity, dragging a shot wide of the far post. That wasn't a great chance, but you'd not be surprised if it turned out to be Scotland's best.
45+1’ - GOAL! Belgium 1-0 Scotland (Lukaku) Eden slides Thorgan in down the left of the box, and he forages brilliantly to retain possession despite various challenges before returning the ball; Eden then dinks a cross from the line and Lukaku, up early with McKenna pinned, heads firmly into the net.
50’ - Meunier dashes down the right and stands up a cross for Lukaku, pulling off Mulgrew in the middle. If we're being generous, the ball is slightly behind him, but he should still score ... except he bundles a header wide.
57’ - GOAL! Belgium 2-0 Scotland (Lukaku) It's too easy for Belgium now. Again, Kompany is allowed to pass into midfield, finding Hazard, whose lovely first touch and turn allows him the space to turn and look inside the D - though one of the 74 defenders in the vicinity might've done something. In the end he finds De Bruyne who, coming back from an offside position, drills a shot which Marshall can only parry, and following up, Lukaku taps a volley home.
85’ - And there you go. Scotland break with Fraser, who slides a clever pass through for McKenna. But Courtois is out quickly, making a fine save, before McKenna struggles to sort his feet and Burke fails to find a shooting angle. That was very poor from all three, and is exactly the problem with this team. If you struggle to score you struggle to win.
90+3’ - GOAL! Belgium 3-0 Scotland (De Bruyne) He is so good. Carrasco tees him up, just outside the box, just left of centre, and he power-places an expert's finish into the bottom far corner.