STEVE CLARKE watched in horror as Scotland produced another x-certificate performance as they slumped to comprehensive defeat from Belgium at Hampden this evening.
The new gaffer saw the team topple to a third successive loss as the Belgians, led by the unstoppable Kevin De Bruyne, ran amok to make qualifying from the group stages for the Euro 2020 Finals next summer a virtual impossibility.
The Scots lost 3-0 in Brussels in June and 2-1 to Russia in Glasgow on Friday and completed the misery on another miserable night to forget.
Mathematicians, punters using the betfred promotion – and wildly optimistic members of the Tartan Army – will point out Clarke’s men still have a chance if the side beat win in Moscow, but we all know that is as likely as sustained sunshine during a Scotland summer.
A goal in nine minutes signalled the beginning of the end against the team ranked No.1 in FIFA ratings.
MAY THE FOURTH BE AGAINST YOU…Kevin De Bruyne clips No.4 past David Marshall.
A Robert Snodgrass free-kick ended up in the Scotland net 14 SECONDS later. It was cleared by the Belgian defence, fell to Dries Mertens who passed to the masterful De Bruyne who clipped the ball towards the totally unmarked Romelu Lukaku.
The Inter Milan striker, racing clear in the box, stroked the ball wide of the exposed and helpless David Marshall.
In the 24th minute, it was 2-0 and all over for those betting with playingthebooks as it was De Bruyne who set it up again with a cross in from the right following a corner-kick.
The Scots defence was caught unawares and defender Thomas Verhaelen, who last scored an international goal a decade ago, got in to knock the ball into the net off Marshall.
And it was was all over in the 32nd minute when that man De Bruyne swung in a corner-kick and Toby Alderweirald rose above Charlie Mulgrew to power a header over the line in off the underside of the crossbar.
Somehow it seemed fitting the devastating De Bruyne should have the final say eight minutes from the end when he took a Lukaku pass in his stride to curl a right-footed effort wide of Marshall for the fourth and goal.
Clarke threw on subs Johnny Russell, Stuart Armstrong and John McGinn for Matt Phillips, Callum McGregor and the hard-working Ryan Christie in the second-half.
But even a guy with a cape wearing his pants outside tights wouldn’t have pulled us back from defeat on this occasion.
TEAM: Marshall; O’Donnell, Mulgrew, Hooper, Robertson; Snodgrass, McTominay, Christie (sub: McGinn 87), McLean, McGregor (sub: Armstrong 68); Phillips (sub: Russell 77).
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