Belgium continued their flawless Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a straight-forward 3-0 victory over Scotland on Tuesday evening.
It took until just before the break for the Red Devils to take the lead in Brussels despite a dominant first-half. Romelu Lukaku was the man to open the scoring as he headed home from close range. The Manchester United man got a second mid-way through the second-half as he reacted quickest from Kevin De Bruyne’s saved shot. The Manchester City midfielder also got on the scoresheet with a brilliant, low effort as Roberto Martinez chalked up another win as Belgium boss.
Belgium dominate opening throws
Chances came for both sides’ forward in the opening stages. Record goalscorer for Belgium, Lukaku, could not initially add to his tally as his effort was well blocked. Oliver Burke then raced away from the hosts’ defence but could only snatch his effort just wide of goal.
Manchester City man Kevin De Bruyne then had a great chance to open the scoring as he was teed up by Eden Hazard but David Marshall did well to tip the ball over the crossbar. He then went even closer as he picked off a loose Scotland pass but could only drive his effort wide.
Marshall the main man for Scotland
Roberto Martinez’s men dominated the majority of the first half and were unlucky not to be ahead as Axel Witsel also had a headed effort palmed away by Marshall. The Scotland man then had to stretch to his maximum to claw away De Bruyne’s cross-shot away from the top corner.
Lukaku then had the arguably the best opportunity of the match as the ball was squared to him only a few yards out but his backheeled effort was executed horrendously as the ball bounced away from goal.
Lukaku eventually heads home opener
The Manchester United frontman did eventually get on the scoresheet though with a fantastic header. Eden Hazard did brilliantly to show his trademark tenacity in the box to create some space. He then lofted an excellent cross towards Lukaku who leapt highest to thunder a header low into the net.
He could have repeated that feat only minutes into the second half but could only lift the ball over.
The 26-year-old did double his night’s work though with another predatory finish. Following a great exchange between De Bruyne and Hazard, the former set his sights for the bottom corner, only to have his shot parried away by Marshall. However, he only served to put it on a plate for Lukaku and he stormed home the rebound.
Late opportunity for Scotland spurned
The visitors could have made the final few minutes extremely interesting as Scott McKenna was played clean through but Thibaut Courtois reacted well to halt his finish. The ball fell loose in the box but neither Burke nor James Forrest could apply a finishing touch.
Belgium rounded off their victory as De Bruyne eventually got the goal that his performance was missing all evening. Picking up the ball on the edge of the penalty area, he drove the ball into the bottom corner with an eye-catching placed shot that left Marshall flat-footed.
Despite a battling performance from Steve Clarke’s Scotland, they weren’t quite able to threaten enough to have any impact on the scoreline. The hosts had the majority of the ball and were thoroughly deserving of their win. The victory could even have been far more comprehensive had it not been for a few missed opportunities. Belgium now sit pretty at the top of the group on maximum points, whilst Scotland are in fourth.
Belgium: Courtois (6); Vertonghen (7), Kompany (6) (Vermaelen (N/A), 90′), Alderweireld (7), Meunier (6); T. Hazard (7) (Carrasco (N/A), 90+1′), Tielemans (6) (Mertens (N/A), 78′), Witsel (6); E. Hazard (8), De Bruyne (7), Lukaku (8).
Scotland: Marshall (8); Taylor (6), McKenna (5), Mulgrew (5), O’Donnell (6), McTominay (6); Russell (6) (Forrest (5), 67′), Armstrong (5) (Fraser (6), 32′), McGregor (6); Burke (6).
Goals: Lukaku (45+1′, 57′), De Bruyne (90+2′)
Referee: Petr Ardeleanu
Yellow Cards: De Bruyne (34′), McTominay (52′)
Red Cards: N/A
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