Kevin De Bruyne provided three first-half assists and then scored himself as Belgium maintained their 100 per cent record in qualifying for Euro 2020 with a comfortable victory in Scotland.
The passing masterclass began in the ninth minute as a devastating counter attack saw De Bruyne pick out Romelu Lukaku for his 26th goal in his last 22 internationals.
That opener came 14 seconds and seven touches after Scotland sent a cross into the Belgium box, and the hosts went two down when De Bruyne’s cross was turned in by Thomas Vermaelen.
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De Bruyne then made it a hat-trick of assists when his corner was met by Toby Alderweireld, whose header bounced off the bar and in.
Lukaku turned provider for De Bruyne late on, with the midfielder capping a near-perfect display when curling a first-time effort into the far corner.
Belgium now have 18 points in Group I with six wins, while Scotland slip down to fifth after Cyprus won at San Marino. Elsewhere, second-placed Russia secured a late victory against Kazakhstan to edge towards qualification themselves.
There’s always the play-offs for Scotland… No surprises here as the world’s No.1 side roll over Scotland, who will now have more than one eye on the play-offs in March. Having won their Nations League group, they are guaranteed that second shot at qualifying for Euro 2020. You would imagine Steve Clarke is already scouting their potential opponents, which looks like it could well be Bulgaria in the semis and then Serbia or Norway in the final – should they get there.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Who else but KevinDeBruyne?! The headline-maker could also have taken up the Talking Point spot too, such was his influence on the match, with the City playmaker handing Lukaku a 49th goal for Belgium, Vermaelen a first goal international goal in almost nine years, and Alderweireld a first goal in 101 appearances for club and country.
And then he goes and scores a goal himself… A level above everybody else.
Kevin De Bruyne ran the show for Belgium
Image credit: Reuters
Scotland: Marshall 6, O'Donnell 6, Mulgrew 5, Cooper 5, Robertson 5, McGregor 5, McLean 6, McTominay 5, Christie 6, Phillips 5, Snodgrass 5. Subs: Armstrong 6, Russell 6, McGinn N/A.
Belgium: Courtois 6, Alderweireld 8, Vermaelen 7, Vertonghen 7, Meunier 7, Tielemans 7, Dendoncker 6, Chadli 6, Mertens 7, De Bruyne 9.5, Lukaku 8. Subs: Carrasco 6, Verschaeren N/A, Raman N/A.
9’ – GOAL BELGIUM! So, so clinical from Belgium. Seconds after they deal with a Scotland cross, Mertens plays it forward for De Bruyne, who carries it and carries it before laying it over to Lukaku, who slots it beyond Marshall.
24’ – A SECOND BELGIUM GOAL! De Bruyne plays a short corner and it almost goes wrong, but when he receives the ball back he sends in a wicked cross to pick out Vermaelen, who fires in from six yards out on his 75th cap for Belgium.
32’ – GOAL! BELGIUM AGAIN! Make that THREE assists for De Bruyne, whose cross finds Alderweireld, and from just in front of the penalty spot, his header hits the bar and bounces a yard or so over the line.
82’ – GOAL FOR DE BRUYNE! Beautiful. It's Lukaku who this time finds De Bruyne, and he curls a first-time effort into the far corner. Three assists. One goal. Man of the match.
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