Scotland well beaten by Belgium as Christian Benteke and Vincent Kompany strike
Scotland's fading hopes of making the World Cup finals in 2014 were surely dashed as they were beaten 2-0 by Belgium.
Last Updated: 16/10/12 11:37pm
Craig Levein's troops defended for their lives, with Allan McGregor in superb form, until two goal in as many minutes from Christian Benteke and Vincent Kompany settled the Group A tie.
McGregor had earned his match fee inside the first 15 minutes as waves of red shirts poured forward with Dreis Mertens and Axel Witsel in particular causing havoc.
As the pressure mounted, Mertens cut the ball back but Benteke failed to make contact with the goal at his mercy.
When the Scots finally broke the shackles, Thibaut Courtois had to be at full stretch to claw away Shaun Maloney's free-kick.
But it was a rare threat for the hosts, as Nacer Chadli and Moussa Dembele both went close, the Scots mounting an increasingly desperate rearguard action.
Kris Commons did work the goalkeeper with another decent free-kick before Benteke hit the top of the crossbar with a towering header.
Darren Mackie almost got on the end of Danny Fox's swinging cross but the introduction of substitute Eden Hazard ensured there was to be no let-up for the overworked Scottish defence.
The inevitable duly arrived on 69 when Kevin De Bruyne chipped the ball to the far post and Benteke powered in the header.
The Scots had barely regrouped when Kompany (71) worked space to hammer the ball into the roof from 15 yards and there was no way back for the leg-weary visitors.
Levein made one change from the side who lost to Wales, with Wigan midfielder James McArthur drafted into the starting line-up in place of Scott Brown.
Belgium looked dangerous right from the first whistle and a Gary Caldwell error allowed Dries Mertens to burst into the box.
But goalkeeper McGregor came to the rescue and blocked superbly at both attempts by Mertens to deny the home side the opener early on.
Fortunately for the Scots, McGregor was on top form and he also saved well from Chadli at the near post before diving bravely to the feet of the same player to snuff out another threat.
After a period of intense pressure from the Belgians, a mis-hit shot from James Morrison caused more problems than it should have for Courtois.
The goalkeeper looked more convincing when he prevented a curling free-kick from Maloney from finding the top corner.
At the other end, Chadli was given enough space to unleash a thunderous strike from 25 yards that whistled inches past the post, before Dembele and Mertens both saw efforts fall wide of target.
With half-time approaching, Scotland threatened from another free-kick, with Commons forcing a decent save from the keeper on this occasion.
Both sides made a change at the interval, with Jamie Mackie replacing Commons and Dembele making way for Hazard.
The Belgians hit the woodwork within five minutes of the restart when Benteke threw himself in front of Toby Alderweireld's cross only to see his header clip the crossbar on the way over.
Kevin Mirallas was thrown into the action for Mertens, before McGregor was shown the first yellow card of the game for time wasting on the hour mark.
The breakthrough came for the Belgians after 69 minutes when Benteke bulleted home a header at the back post, eventually beating the impressive McGregor.
Belgium doubled their lead a minute later when Kompany collected from Hazard on the edge of the area and rifled an unstoppable shot into the back of the net.
It was a crushing blow for the Scots, who replaced Steven Fletcher with Kenny Miller, with just over 15 minutes to go.
Blackpool's Matt Phillips was then handed his competitive debut, confirming his allegiance to a Scotland side whose slim hopes of reaching the World Cup finals were, by then, left in tatters.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||3|
|11||Shots off Target||2|
|67.2||1st Half Poss.||32.8|
|64.2||2nd Half Poss.||35.8|