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Ruthless Lukaku lands harsh blow to Scotland's hopes

Belgium 3 Scotland 0

At the double: Romelu Lukaku scored twice for Belgium
At the double: Romelu Lukaku scored twice for Belgium

By Ronnie Esplin

Scotland were handed a harsh lesson with a 3-0 defeat by Belgium at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.

Steve Clarke's side defended with both diligence and desperation in this Euro 2020 qualifier only for all the good work to be undone just before half-time when a lapse of concentration ended with striker Romelu Lukaku heading in a cross.

In truth, the goal had been coming, and the forward added a second in the 57th minute with a strike, and Clarke's side had to work hard to prevent further damage before Kevin de Bruyne added a third in the final minute.

Roberto Martinez's team have won four out of four Group I fixtures, while the Scots have six points from 12 and host Russia and Belgium in their next qualifiers in September.

Clarke said: "It was difficult game for us. I don't think we deserved the third goal at the end and I could say the second goal was offside, which could have changed things.

"My overall impression is that I have a good group of players who are committed to their country.

"They were competitive in the game against the number one team in the world. We have shown in the work done in this 10-day camp, but we need improvements. We need to be better on the ball, but we have grown as a group.

"We need to be ready to go again against two good sides again when we return in the autumn."

The nerves that the 4,000 or so members of the Tartan Army had would have increased with the news of skipper Andy Robertson's absence through injury, his place taken by Kilmarnock left-back Greg Taylor.

It looked like the Scots would make it to the interval unscathed only for Lukaku to head in Eden Hazard's cross when Scott McTominay switched off.

Six minutes into the second-half, keeper David Marshall beat away a terrific 25-yard free-kick from De Bruyne but, after another ferocious drive from the midfielder had been parried by Marshall, Lukaku followed up to drill the ball into the net on the rebound.

Lukaku drove narrowly past the far post, as did Hazard when he worked himself into a shooting position. Yet another strike from Lukaku missed the target, although with 10 minutes remaining Fraser drew a decent save from Thibaut Courtois.

The Belgium keeper then rushed from his goal to deny Scott McKenna before substitute James Forrest failed to capitalise on the loose ball.

Marshall denied De Bruyne as the home side returned fire, but he was eventually beaten beaten by the brilliant Belgian who drilled in from the edge of the box.

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