A Kevin De Bruyne-inspired Belgium cruised to a 4-0 victory against Scotland at Hampden Park in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying on Monday night.
Romelu Lukaku gave Roberto Martinez’s men the perfect start as he was teed up by the Manchester City man in just the ninth minute of the match. Veteran defender Thomas Vermaelan doubled the advantage midway through the first-half as he was given the freedom of the penalty area to finish past David Marshall. Fellow centre-back Toby Alderweireld was then the next on the scoresheet as he headed home from a corner just after the half-hour mark.
De Bruyne, who was at the heart of all of the brilliant play from the visitors, scored the final goal with a brilliant curling effort late on as Belgium continued their vice-like grip of Group I.
Lukaku haunts the Scots yet again
It was the visitors who struck first at Hampden and after three goals in his last two appearances against Scotland, it was Lukaku who was on the scoresheet yet again. From a Scotland free-kick, Belgium launched a wicked counter-attack via De Bruyne and Lukaku with the former setting up the striker for an easy finish at the far post.
The Inter Milan forward could have doubled his night’s work early on as he latched onto De Bruyne’s lofted pass but could only lift his effort over with an acrobatic attempt.
Comfortable first-half lead
With Steve Clarke’s men floundering, Belgium then struck again. A simple short corner caught out the hosts with the brilliant De Bruyne then tossing a wonderful cross into the box. Vermaelen was unmarked only yards from goal to stab the ball home for only his second international goal.
Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans then had the next opportunity as the ball fell to him on the edge of the box but his half-volley dropped marginally wide of the Scotland goal.
In truth, the whole match really was a David and Goliath battle, but this time the minnow was really starved of any foothold at all. That was perfectly captured in Belgium’s third goal as Alderweireld easily got away from Charlie Mulgrew at a corner and planted a firm header into the net, via the crossbar.
De Bruyne finally nets his goal
Probably due to their emphatic lead, Belgium took their foot off of the gas in the second-half, although Dries Mertens did force an excellent stop out of David Marshall with a curling effort. De Bruyne himself should have got on the scoresheet but pulled his effort wide of goal.
There was indeed time for the Manchester City man to get on the scoresheet though as he rammed a snapshot into the far post to seal a wonderful victory for Martinez’s men.
The gap between the two sides at Hampden really was immense. But for Belgium relenting somewhat after the break, it could have been a far greater victory. Nonetheless, it was a brilliant and thrilling display from the visitors, with Kevin De Bruyne the architect of most of the play. As a result, the Belgian’s extend their lead at the top of the table to six points, whilst Scotland drop to fifth on only six points out of a possible 18.
Scotland: Marshall (6); Robertson (6), Cooper (5), Mulgrew (5), O’Donnell (5); McTominay (6), McLean (5), McGregor (5) (Armstrong (5), 68′); Snodgrass (6), Phillips (6) (Russell (N/A), 77′), Christie (6) (McGinn (N/A), 87′).
Belgium: Courtois (6); Vertonghen (7), Vermaelen (8), Alderweireld (8); Chadli (6) (Carrasco (N/A), 78′), Dendoncker (6), Tielemans (6) (Verschaeren (N/A), 86′), Meunier (7) (Raman (N/A), 90′); De Bruyne (10), Mertens (7), Lukaku (8).
Goals: Lukaku (9′), Vermaelen (24′), Alderweireld (32′)
Referee: Pawel Gil
Yellow Cards: O’Donnell (59′), McTominay (61′), Vermaelen (79′)
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