- European World Cup Qualifiers
- 16 October 2012, 6:45pm
- King Baudouin Stadium
FULL-TIME:Scotland's hopes of qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil are all but over - after only four games. It's another miserable night the Scots, who were outplayed by an excellent Belgian side. It would have been five or six had it not been for McGregor. Levein looks to be on borrowed time, with his side collecting just two points from a possible 12 in Group A. Thanks for following our coverage.
90 mins:Three minutes before the Tartan Army are out out of their misery.
Graham, Fife:"We can't keep blaming the manager he doesn't have any REAL quality to work with. You cannot make a silk purse from a sow's ear."
85 mins:Scotland really have been pathetic tonight. I know they're up against a strong side but they haven't created a single chance in open play. Is it the manager's fault? Or are the players just not good enough?
81 mins:Chadli is booked for a foul on Maloney.
80 mins:Scotland's final change sees Blackpool winger Phillips replace Morrison.
Andy, Glasgow:"This game has been embarrassing. It would've been all over after 10 minutes if it wasn't for McGregor."
76 mins:Miller replaces Steven Fletcher, who hasn't had a sniff tonight.
74 mins:Game over then for Scotland, whose hopes of reaching Rio appear all but over after just four matches. They can have no complaints. Will Levein get the chop? Send in your comments above.
71 mins: QUICK-FIRE BELGIAN DOUBLE!Two in two minutes for Belgium - and what a cracker this is from KOMPANY. The Manchester City captain collects the ball just inside the Scotland box, sidesteps a challenge and fires a rocket into the roof of the net.
69 mins: BELGIUM FINALLY MAKE THE BREAKTHROUGH!Scotland have had this coming from the first few minutes. Hazard twists and turns inside the box before laying the ball off to De Bruyne. He chips a cross to the far post where BENTEKE climbs highest to head in from close range. Nothing McGregor could do about that one.
67 mins:De Bruyne tests McGregor with a swirling 20-yard shot but the keeper gets his body behind the ball and Scotland clear.
66 mins:Free-kick to Belgium about 25 yards out from the Scotland goal. Hazard steps up and gets plenty of pace on his effort but the ball drifts narrowly wide.
64 mins:Rare attack by Scotland down their left flank. Fox gets forward and whips in a teasing cross. The ball evades Steven Fletcher and almost falls to Mackie but he has it pinched off him before he can get a clean strike away.
61 mins:McGregor is booked for taking his time over a goal kick. Seems harsh.
59 mins:The good news for Scotland is that Belgium have gone off the boil for the last seven or eight minutes. However, the visitors don't look like scoring and they really do need to win this game if they want to keep their qualifying hopes alive.
55 mins:Belgium make their second sub as Everton attacker Mirallas replaces Mertens.
52 mins:Hazard has a crack from the edge of a crowded box after a corner is only half-cleared, but his thunderbolt is blocked by a Scotland body.
50 mins:Unfortuntely for Scotland, the second half is already following the same pattern as the first. Benteke climbs above Caldwell to meet a deep cross but sticks his header over from six yards.
46 mins:Both sides are making a change for the start of this second half as Mackie replaces Commons, and Chelsea midfielder Hazard, who was surprisingly dropped to the bench, comes on for Dembele.
HALF-TIME:Belgium have dominated the first half and created plenty of chances but Scotland somehow go in at the break with the match still scoreless. McGregor made four or five fine saves inside the first 10 minutes. It seemed only a matter of time before the Belgians would break the deadlock but they've been wasteful in front of goal. Scotland's only efforts have been from long-range free-kicks which Courtois has been equal to. Join us for the second haf soon.
45 mins:One minute added on. Scotland will be desperate to hear the half-time whistle.
44 mins:Right-back Alderweireld lofts a cross towards the back post. McGregor misjudges the flight of the ball but Benteke nods over.
42 mins:This time it's Commons who strikes the free-kick, and his left-footed effort is beaten away by Courtois. Decent effort.
41 mins:Scotland have another free-kick which is again about 30 yards from the Belgium goal.
37 mins:Dembele again fires off target from outside the Scotland area. Levein's side are lucky that the hosts have left their shooting boots in the changing room.
34 mins:Mertens is found in space on the edge of the area but he curls his delicate strike just wide of the upright.
32 mins:Dembele is the lastest Belgian to have a pop as his low shot across goal skids off the turf and flies a foot wide of the post.
30 mins:Vertonghen makes another run into the Scotland area but he's tackled by Darren Fletcher. Belgium have dominated this opening half-hour but can't find a way to beat McGregor.
27 mins:McArthur loses possession inside his own half. Chadli picks up the ball and pulls the trigger from 25 yards but his shot whistles wide.
25 mins:The corner is too close to Courtois as he takes it cleanly before looking to set up another Belgium break.
24 mins:Scotland almost sneak in front! Commons is fouled by Dembele about 30 yards from the Belgium goal. Maloney whips the free-kick over the wall and towards the top corner but Courtois makes a world-class save as he tips it behind for a corner.
22 mins:Scotland survive - again! McGregor flaps at a cross under pressure from one of his own defenders. The ball is turned back into the box but Benteke fails to make any contact from about three yards out. Golden chance.
18 mins:Another Belgium attack as Tottenham defender Vertonghen breaks into the left of the box before firing a shot over.
15 mins:Alderweireld tries his luck from about 35 yards but blasts his speculative effort way over. At the other end, McArthur's tame effort takes a deflection and almost catches out Courtois, but the keeper adjusts his body to keep the ball out.
13 mins:Steven Fletcher has taken a knock to his ankle and needs treatment. He's hardly had a kick of the ball. McGregor has probably touched it more times than any other Scotland player.
10 mins:McGregor is certainly earning his crust tonight. The Scotland keeper palms clear Chadli's angled drive before saving at the feet of the same player, who had been put through on goal by Kompany's reverse pass. Scotland are hanging on for dear life. Belgium would already be two or three up if it weren't for an inspired McGregor.
6 mins:Belgium are throwing the kitchen sink at the Scots, who are already defending deep inside their own box. Dembele darts down the right but his cross from the byline is blocked by Caldwell.
3 mins:Belgium launch their first attack and somehow Scotland survive! Caldwell makes a hash of a clearance inside his own box. Mertens pounces but he's twice denied by a sprawling McGregor before the keeper makes a third save at point-blank range. Scotland clear for a corner. Outstanding goalkeeping by McGregor. Looks like he's in for a busy night.
0 mins:Belgium get this Group A qualifier underway, shooting left to right. Scotland are wearing their away strip - white shirt/socks and blue shorts.
Craig, Edinburgh:"Craig Levein must go. We'll get beat 3-0 tonight. I don't have any confidence in him."
1942:It's make-or-break time then for Scotland and their under-fire manager. The teams are out for the anthems. If Scotland fail to win then their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil will surely be all but over after just four games.
1935:Lots of familiar names in the Belgium XI including Kompany, Vermaelen, Vetonghen, Dembele and Benteke, who all ply their trade in the Premier League. The big surprise is Chelsea's star summer signing Hazard has been dropped to the bench to make way for PSV winger Dries Mertens.
1924:Stuart from Edinburgh agrees with Andy: "Levein should have been out after the Czech game. No strike was plain stupid. Thinks too much of himself and it shows in his team selections. Walter and/or Gordon in. 2-0 defeat tonight."
1922:Not much support for Levein ahead of tonight's clash in Brussels. Andy from Glasgow says, "Belgium 5-1 Scotland. Levein is an absolute shambles, he should've been booted after the 4-6-0 formation in Prague. Embarrassing and I can't see anything other than a humiliating defeat for us. Levein out, Walter Smith or Gordon Strachan in."
1830:Scotland have made only one change from the side which went down to a Gareth Bale brace in Wales as Wigan's James McArthur replaces the injured Scott Brown in midfield. The full line-up reads: McGregor, Hutton, Caldwell, Berra, Fox, D Fletcher (c), McArthur, Morrison, Commons, Maloney, S Fletcher.
1800:Good evening and welcome to our live coverage of Scotland's daunting World Cup qualifier in Brussels. Craig Levein's struggling side are winless and second from bottom in Group A after three games, while their opponents are unbeaten and sitting pretty at the summit on seven points. Scotland must surely win tonight to realistically keep their qualifying hopes alive. A defeat could cost under-fire boss Levein his job.
- European World Cup Qualifiers
- 16 October 2012, 6:45pm
- King Baudouin Stadium
Craig Levein's future as Scotland coach hangs by a thread after their World Cup qualifying hopes were all but ended by a 2-0 defeat to Belgium.
The Scots headed into the match in Brussels sitting second bottom of Group A and still seeking a first win which was desperately needed to boost their slim hopes of reaching Brazil in 2014.
But second-half goals from Christian Benteke and Vincent Kompany just a minute apart meant the dramatic victory against one of the section favourites failed to materialise on another bitterly disappointing night for Scotland.
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.
The Celtic skipper was forced to withdraw from the squad with an ongoing hip problem that forced him out of Friday's clash in Cardiff at half-time.
Injury to Marouane Fellaini should have been a boost for the Scots but they still faced a Belgian side packed full of talent in the shape of players such as Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen.
The home side were even in a position to name Eden Hazard on the bench, confirming speculation he would not start the game at the King Baudouin Stadium.
Belgium looked dangerous right from the first whistle and a Gary Caldwell error allowed Dries Mertens to burst into the box.
But goalkeeper Allan 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 Nacer 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 Thibaut Courtois.
The goalkeeper looked more convincing when he prevented a curling free-kick from Shaun Maloney from finding the top corner after Kris Commons was fouled just outside the box by Moussa Dembele.
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.