Not going Scot-free from errors in huge loss

Belgium's Michy Batshuayi in high spirits after scoring against Scotland in their friendly at Hampden Park, Glasgow, on Friday. The striker scored twice in the 4-0 win.
Belgium's Michy Batshuayi in high spirits after scoring against Scotland in their friendly at Hampden Park, Glasgow, on Friday. The striker scored twice in the 4-0 win.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

GLASGOW • An error-prone Scotland slumped to their biggest home defeat in over 45 years, 4-0 to the world's No. 2 side Belgium in a friendly.

Friday's match at Hampden Park quickly regressed into a morale-sapping exercise for Scottish fans, who were given no scope for optimism, and the Scotland manager Alex McLeish cut a disconsolate touchline figure long before the cathartic final whistle arrived.

Belgium's prominence in the grand scheme of international football must be noted, having finished third at the World Cup in Russia, but this was a poor Scottish effort, laced with individual errors, and devoid of organisation and spirit.

While the gulf in class was evident by the fact that Scotland got their first corner only in the 84th minute as they struggled against the Red Devils, the hosts did not help their cause with a "catalogue of errors".

"We shot ourselves in the foot," said Scotland manager Alex McLeish. "They're a top, top team. We were perpetrators of our own downfall. These are errors that should be easily eradicated. It was just a catalogue of errors."

McLeish has presided over five matches in his second Scotland tenure, all friendlies, while recording just a single win, and this marked Scotland's heaviest home reverse since February 1973 when they lost 5-0 to England.

Belgium dominated the match with Romelu Lukaku putting them ahead just before the half-hour mark after a defensive mix-up, before they ran riot in the second half.

Scotland gifted the visitors the opener when goalkeeper Craig Gordon rolled the ball to John McGinn, who was dispossessed by Mousa Dembele before Dries Mertens set up Lukaku to score.

Hazard made it 2-0 with some trickery and a fierce drive in Belgium's first foray after the break, before he set up Michy Batshuayi for the third after Charlie Mulgrew gave the ball away.

Batshuayi netted his second from the edge of the area with Ryan Jack to blame after he lost possession in midfield.

Afterwards, Belgium manager Roberto Martinez declared himself pleased with the comfortable warm-up victory ahead of their Nations League campaign opener in Iceland on Tuesday.

"The players were well focused overall and for us, it was a good exercise for Tuesday," said the Spaniard.

"Take the scoreline away, we were very clinical in front of goal."

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 09, 2018, with the headline 'Not going Scot-free from errors in huge loss'. Print Edition | Subscribe