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October 16, 2012
• Stade Roi Baudouin, Bruxelles (Brussel)
Referee: T. Hagen
• Attendance: 44132
C. Benteke 69'
V. Kompany 71'
Thanks for joining us for the live commentary of Belgium 2-0 Scotland. There will be player ratings and a match report to follow soon, but it's goodnight from us - and perhaps goodnight to Scotland's 2014 World Cup dreams too.
So, Belgium march on towards Brazilian beaches in 2014, while Scotland slink off meekly into the night after a defeat that, in truth, could well have been an embarrassment. They did test Courtois in fairness, but if your main threats are coming from free kicks over 25 yards out, you know you are in serious trouble.
That's it! Belgium secure perhaps the most one-sided 2-0 victory you will ever see, while Craig Levein must be wondering just what he can do to arrest his side's horrific form.
90' + 2'
Scotland are pressing, but Belgium seem content to let them look for openings they know the visitors won't find - which is surely more depressing than if the Belgians were closing them down straight away.
90' + 1'
This one's almost over, and as Darren Fletcher hoists a tired cross into the area, Scotland's hopes fade.
Hazard smashes it over, but he's entitled to have a go - he's changed the game, working the opening for the cross for Benteke's goal, and setting up Kompany for the second. Although, to be fair, Kompany effectively did it all by himself for the second.
Belgium have a free kick 30 yards out here - will Hazard put the cherry on the icing on the cake?
A glorious passing move by the hosts ends with a goal kick for Scotland, but this Belgian side look like the real deal. Can they turn this rich promise into trophies though? That's the big question.
Eight minutes to go and Belgium fans are cheering every pass their side makes - if they'd have done that for every successful pass tonight, they'd be pretty croaky tomorrow.
Yellow Card Nacer Chadli
Kompany shimmies, shakes, and slides away from two tired Scottish tackles. He can do everything, and Roberto Mancini will be delighted with his player's performance tonight.
They are getting forward here, Scotland, with Danny Fox whipping in a dangerous ball from the left, but there's no striker handy to head in. This is more than Scotland have done all game, but there's just not enough quality in the end product.
Scotland are punting the ball forward for Mackie here to no avail. They've simply been outclassed by their hosts here, and while many teams will fall to this talented Belgian side in the coming years, it would've been nice to see Levein's side show a bit more adventure in this second half.
It's taken over an hour, but Belgium have the goals their play richly deserves. McGregor has done brilliantly, but Belgium simply have too much talent across the pitch to sit back against for a whole game. When a centre-back can score goals like that, you know a team will be dangerous.
Assist Eden Hazard
Goal Vincent Kompany
What a goal from Kompany! Following Belgium pressure from a corner, he twists, turns, and hits a stunning drive from 15 yards past a despairing McGregor like a top-class centre forward there. No chance for the keeper, and you've got to say now that Scotland have very little chance.
Assist Kevin De Bruyne
Goal Christian Benteke
Belgium are finally ahead! And it's a header from Benteke, who powers home after a corner routine from the hosts. Hazard gets into the area from a short corner, pulls it back to De Bruyne who whips in a delightful ball to the back post, and the Villa striker smashes the ball in.
McGregor saves from De Bruyne! The midfielder punts the ball low and hard from 22 yards at the keeper, and it swerves and dips just before him, but the Scot is equal to it and beats the ball away. Benteke fouls, and Scotland survive with a free kick in their own area.
Half the ground thought it was in! Hazard got it up and over very well, but the effort was just a yard wide of McGregor's right-hand post. A great effort, but not close enough.
Witsel takes a shoddy dive after the merest of touches, but Hazard may fancy his chances from the resulting free kick from 25 yards here...
Mackie is so close to an opener! The ball is played in from the left, and Vertonghen just gets a foot to the ball before the substitute can make contact from six yards out.
Yellow Card Allan McGregor
McGregor gets a booking for time-wasting here. In the 60th minute. With over half an hour to go. The Belgians are looking increasingly frustrated...
Hazard finds Vertonghen down the left, who takes his time over a cross...and punts it very, very high over the goal. Poor from the left-back (who really wants to be a centre-back) there, and it'll have to be better to get past McGregor tonight.
Hutton gets crunched by a strong tackle from Witsel there, but he's up again. The Belgian's studs were showing, but pointed towards the ground - or Hutton's ankle if you like. Difficult to say whether it was a foul, but the follow through was strong by any standard.
Mertens has been a threat tonight, but it's Kevin Mirallas' chance to shine now. Yet another Belgian who has shown fine form early on in the Premier League here, and he could be the difference tonight.
S Fletcher looks like he could be through on goal, but Kompany shows fantastic pace to recover and track back there. Tall, strong and quick off the mark, the City centre-back is proving a tough but to crack tonight.
Belgium are camped here, but can they find that gal? You feel if they get one, then the floodgates may open, which would surely spell the end of Scotland's 2014 World Cup dreams.
We're off again, and Belgium are pressing forward once more.
And Jamie Mackie is on for the visitors - less of a sparkling sub for Scotland there, but could he change things up for Levein?
And Jamie Mackie is on for the visitors - less of a sparkling sub for Scotland there, but could he change things up for Levein?
Can Scottish nerves take any more of that? Well, you won't be pleased to know that Chelsea's prodigiously talented forward Eden Hazard is coming on for the hosts. This is no time to panic, but it's difficult to suggest anything else after his early season form.
It seems like it'll only be a question of time before Wilmots' men break the deadlock, but as the game wears on, Levein will have to give his side the belief that they can indeed take something from the match. They'll have to press higher up the pitch and get more men forward, but with two points from three games in Group A, now's the time to be brave.
And that's half time! I've no idea how Scotland are still level, but they are 45 minutes away from an unlikely point. McGregor has been in fine form for the visitors, making some great saves and being dominant in the air from crosses, but the home keeper Courtios has also had to make two fine stops to deny Scotland from free kicks.
One minute of injury time at the end of the half here, and a 0-0 would feel like a victory at this point for Levein and his men. Can they get in level?
Panic in the Scotland box as numerous Belgians look to find the net but the ball is cleared... and now a ball is floated into Benteke, who can only head over at the back post. How many times have we said this - close for the Belgians, but still no goal.
Commons' free kick is saved! They looked to fool Courtois there with a cheeky effort curled around the wall towards the keeper's corner, but the youngster was equal to it with a confident push away. Once his loan deal in Spain is up, Petr Cech may have a fight on his hands at Stamford Bridge for the No.1 jersey...
A break for Scotland here, and S Fletcher finds Maloney in the middle, and he is fouled. Now, after Maloney's earlier free kick, will he have an other go at goal from 25 yards. It looks pretty certain...
Darren Fletcher lifts the ball into the area, and Berra gets his head to the ball, but fouls Kompany in the process. A rare foray forward there, and Scotland will need more of those as the games wears on.
More Belgium pressure here, but Benteke is called up for a foul on Alan Hutton as a cross comes in, and Scotland can breathe once more. The home crowd are getting a tad restless here - and Scotland have a free kick around 40 yards out. Surely this is too far for a strike...
Belgium look very dangerous tonight - while Scotland may not be the biggest challenge they will ever face (apologies to you Scottish fans out there), the home side combine power, strength, skill and speed. They look a lot like Manchester City did last season - of course, it helps when City's captain is Belgian anyway.
...and now Mertens almost breaks the deadlock! The nippy forward picks up the ball on the left and attempts to bend in an effort high past McGregor, but the fine effort ends up wide of the keeper's left-hand post once more. Poor old McGregor is going to get sick of hitting the grass soon.
Dembele almost scores! The midfielder picks up the ball and eases it onto his left foot before striking viciously across McGregor's goal, but it flies wide of his left-hand post. Close...
Vertonghen gets into the box again...but desperate - and well-timed - defending means Scotland clear their lines. They'll have to be careful of giving away penalties with Belgium spending so much time in their penalty area, but for the moment, the scoreline remains 0-0.
Chadli is through on the right side of the area, but McArthur does brilliantly to get back and deny the forward, putting the ball out for a corner.
How close was that? Pretty close. Chadli works himself a bit of space and lashes an effort just wide of McGregor's left-hand post from 18 yards. Is it going to be one of those games for the hosts?
As for Belgium's previous chance, Benteke had the opportunity to head in to an empty net from two yards, but failed to make any connection with the ball. That was a let-off of Scotland.
Scotland have a free-kick 30 yards out here...and Maloney goes so close! Courtois makes an astonishing stop as the Scots' free-kick swirled towards the keeper's right-hand corner, and the Chelsea player makes a great one-handed stop. That would've been a special goal.
Somehow Scotland survive! McGregor cuts out another cross, but the ball falls for Benteke a couple of yards out - it should be an opener, but for reasons currently unknown the ball is not in Scotland's net - more on that in a second...
Before the Witsel run, Vertonghen blasted an effort high and wide from the left after fine build-up play with Benteke. Forgive the lapse, but it really is a chance a minute here for Belgium. Can Scotland keep them at bay?
Witsel is through again after fine passing from the hosts, but his cross is cut out well. Another corner for Belgium...
Scotland almost score a bizarre goal! Morrison has a half-hearted swing at the ball after it breaks on the edge of the area, and it looks as though Thibaut Courtois loses his footing, having to make the save with his foot to prevent an embarrassing opener. Odd scenes indeed,
We're back underway and Belgium are pressing again. Scotland are camped in their own half here...and Witsel launches a rocket high into the stands.
Steven Fletcher's working hard up front but is feeling his ankle here - he would be a massive loss if he had to go off injured, But at least it gives the away side a breather after a hectic opening.
Kompany is through on goal - but McGregor slides out and the ball deflects off the Manchester City captain for a goal kick. None of the Belgian side are afraid to get forward, and the threat will be coming from all over the pitch.
Wait a minute, Scotland are attacking - but a cross comes to nothing and Belgium attack...and McGregor makes another stop...and another! First he makes a low save from a strike on the left, and then gets low to punch out a cross. He's going to be a busy goalkeeper tonight.
Scotland haven't settled on the ball yet - they've slowed the pace down in defence but after a few passes they're simply hoofing the ball forward, which will surely only lead to defeat.
Dembele and Axel Witsel are dominating the centre here, driving forward and showing pace and strength that the Scots simply can't handle. The Spurs midfielder is finding joy down the right, and the away side will have to work hard to contain him.
How have Belgium not scored?! McGregor makes a magnificent double stop to deny Dries Mertens there after Gary Caldwell lunged at a clearance in the penalty area and got nothing on it. The resultant corner is headed over, and Scotland survive - for now.
And we're off! Belgium start proceedings, and will surely look to press early on.
The second half is just four minutes old and Belgium have gone closer than they have all half. Toby Alderweireld stormed down the right and whipped in an inch-perfect ball for Christian Benteke, only for the striker to head to ball off the top of Allan McGregor's bar. Honestly, it's only a matter of time.
We're almost ready here - Belgium have a team hug and the Red Devils will be looking to entertain their fans. Can Scotland stop them?
The teams are striding out and lining up for the national anthems. It will be a huge ask for Levein's side tonight, but as 'Flower of Scotland' blares out, the singing away fans certainly believe they can create a shock here.
Belgium's back line contains arguably three of the Premier League's finest defenders in the form of VIncent Kompany, Thomas Vermaelen and Jan Vertonghen. With the likes of Marouane Fellaini (currently injured), Mousa Dembele and Eden Hazard ahead of them, the Belgians could genuinely be a threat in 2014 - providing they actually reach Brazil. A win tonight would be a huge boost to those dreams.
Scotland will be hoping Darren Fletcher can continue his comeback and drive the team on to a famous victory against tricky opponents - and with Steven Fletcher in blistering early season form for Sunderland, it would be foolish to write off the away side tonight.
So, the big news for Belgium is that Eden Hazard is left on the bench, while Aston VIlla striker Christian Benteke leads the line for the home side.
Scotland: McGregor, Hutton, Caldwell, Berra, Fox; Commons, D Fletcher, McArthur, Morrison, Maloney; S Fletcher. Subs: Gilks (GK), Mulgrew, Cowie, Adam, Miller, Mackie, Martin, Phillips, Webster, Marshall (GK).
The line-ups are in... Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Kompany, Vertonghen; Witsel, De Bruyne, Dembele, Mertens, Chadli; Benteke. Subs: Mignolet (GK), Hazard, Ciman, Mboyo, Van Buyten, Mirallas, Defour, Lombaerts, Vossen, J-F Gillet (GK) Simons, G Gillet.
Good evening and welcome to the live match commentary of Belgium - Scotland. Craig Levein is under mounting pressure following a late defeat to Wales on Friday night, and with just two points after three games, the Scots need a win to have any chance of going to Brazil in 2014. Marc Wilmots' side on the other hand sit top of Group A with seven points from three games, and with an exciting young squad, could (whisper it) even be dark horses for 2014.
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