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From Tom English
BBC Scotland at Hampden
Kevin de Bruyne motivated Belgium to some brutal defeat of hapless Scotland to end hopes of reaching Euro 2020 via their eligibility group.
The Manchester City guy netted the fourth and setup Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen along with Romelu Lukaku.
The side of steve Clarke must now look to the play-offs of next year because their best hope of ending a 22-year wait.
Victory made it six wins out of six to Roberto Martinez’s Group I now leaders.
In fact, it could have been much worse to Scotland against the world’s number one ranked side in Hampden, that played well within themselves.
Scotland, in fifth course Russia by Belgium and nine points from 12 with four games to go.
After the chastening 2-1 loss at home to Russia on Friday arrived this evisceration from Belgium – an Eden Hazard-less Belgium during that. Who wants the Real Madrid person once you already have the genius of De Bruyne along with weakness that is dire in the home group, whose citizenship had been paper-bag slim, with due apologies to newspaper bags?
Scotland, with Kenny McLean, Ryan Christie, Robert Snodgrass and Matt Phillips coming for John McGinn, Ryan Fraser, James Forrest and Oli McBurnie, had a few early moments of optimism and then a harrowing night thereafter, the horror show starting when they surrendered the first goal after just two minutes. The Scots got done over the counter attack. They had been unbelievably naive and reckless in leaving themselves open. Incompetence on an international scale.
By the edge of their box, Belgium went after finding De Bruyne who ran up the left and regaining possession of a Snodgrass free-kick, Dries Mertens. He had defence and space and time. He just looked up, chose Lukaku who’d strolled on target out all and also the Internazionale striker did the rest.
The whole thing – from Mertens to De Bruyne to Lukaku to the back of Dave Marshall’s net – took 14 minutes. It was Lukaku’s 49th goal for his nation. He would have had his 50th nine minutes later when De Bruyne – who else? – dinked a ball . Lukaku didn’t clip on it past Marshall.
Another Belgium target wasn’t long in coming. This time with a cross poked home by Vermaelen, once it was De Bruyne who made it. A mess in the rear scotland, didn’t pick up him. What problems Clarke has in attempting to create something resembling a defence worthy of this title.
Thibaut Courtois however a shell-shocked Hampden sunk deeper into grief when Belgium struck only after the mark was analyzed by phillips. It was another avoidable goal, a free header from a De Bruyne corner. Alderweireld got from Charlie Mulgrew and thumped his campaign in.
3 De Bruyne and three objectives helps. Belgium had scored 10 goals in games against the Scots at annually. The thing about this hiding was without ever having to move out of third or second gear, that they pulled it off. They did not have to get anywhere near their best.
Marshall needed to tip a shot by Mertens and De Bruyne missed a great chance. Sandwiched in between was a dip from Stephen O’Donnell which brought a card to the Scotland right-back for. Scott McTominay went into the book and he’ll miss the visit to Russia next month, maybe not that it matters. The goose of scotland is truly and well cooked today.
A fourth has been for the Belgians, Lukaku being permitted to flip by a few Scottish safeguarding prior to locating the unplayable De Bruyne, who slotted a right-footed curler outside Marshall to heap on the pain for what was left of their home audience. Many of them had led for home by then. One has to wonder just how many of them will return.
A masterclass from the playmaker along with his passing awareness rather than ending ability to find space beguiling and bemusing Scotland in equal measure. A sumptuous finish on supplied.
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