SCOTLAND are looking for a first victory over Belgium since 1987 in their World Cup qualifier at Hampden; follow all the action with our live updates.
Gordon Strachan’s men will go into tonight’s game against Belgium with renewed confidence after strong performances in their last two outings. A win against Croatia and a brave showing against England at Wembley last month have put Scotland on the right track.
Can they keep that good form going tonight?
The two nations have met 16 times so far, Scotland winning four, three of the games finishing in draws, and Belgium winning nine times.
The Belgians, with an immensely talented squad of players, have impressed in this qualifying campaign and currently lead Group A in their quest to qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.
When they met Scotland in Brussels last October they eased to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Craig Levein’s side. Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke broke the deadlock in the 69th minute before Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany added a second two minutes later.
Kick off: 20.00, at Hampden Park
Television: Sky Sports 3
Injuries: Scotland are without Liam Bridcutt, Allan McGregor, George Boyd, Graham Dorrans and James Morrison. Belgium gave Marouane Fellaini extra time to complete his transfer from Everton to Manchester United but the towering midfielder should feature.
The first clash between Scotland and Belgium was on Wednesday, 23 January 1946 in front of 48,000 fans at Hampden. Jimmy Delaney of Manchester United was Scotland’s hero, scoring both goals in an entertaining 2-2 draw, including an underwhelming equaliser from the penalty spot.
The old Heysel Stadium was the setting for a return friendly the following year, and this time Belgium prevailed in a 2-1 win, with Billy Steel - then at Morton - scoring the Scotland goal.
However, Scotland then won three out of the next four matches they played against Belgium. Goals from Hibernian’s James Combe and David Duncan of East Fife saw the Scots win 2-0 at Hampden in 1948 and in 1951 - back at Heysel - Scotland recorded a stunning 5-0 win. Aberdeen striker George Hamilton scored a hat-trick in a team that included the late Hibernian legend Lawrie Reilly. The Famous Five man surprisingly did not make it on to the scoresheet, however, with Third Lanark’s Jimmy Mason and Willie Waddell of Rangers scoring the other two goals.
Twenty years would elapse before the clubs met again. The February 1971 match was the first ever competitive fixture between Scotland and Belgium after the countries were grouped together in qualifying for the 1972 European Championships. In the unglamorous setting of the Stade de Sclessin in Liege, Scotland slumped to a dismal 3-0 defeat, Ronnie McKinnon of Rangers scoring an own goal on a night to forget. Hearts keeper Jim Cruickshank was in goals for this match and Archie Gemmill - then at Derby County - made his Scotland debut.
When the teams met again at Pittodrie in November 1971, there was another famous debutant - Kenny Dalglish, who came off the bench as half-time sub for Alex Cropley. Scotland, stung by the criticism they had received after losing in Liege, turned in a far more accomplished performance and John O’Hare’s early goal was enough to give them a 1-0 victory. John Hansen, brother of Alan, also made his debut - one of two caps the Partick Thistle defender would win for Scotland.
Scotland next met Belgium in a friendly just before the 1974 World Cup finals. The June fixture at the Klokke Stadion in Bruges saw Scotland fall behind but equalise through Jimmy Johnstone, but Willie Ormond’s side lost out to a late penalty from Raoul Lambert.
In the years that followed the 1978 World Cup, Scotland and Belgium developed a habit of meeting each other in European Championship qualifying. Sadly for Scotland, they failed to muster a single victory in the four meetings between 1979 and 1983, losing 2-0 and 3-1 in the two qualifiers for the 1980 tournament and then losing 3-2 and drawing 1-1 in the two ties before the 1984 finals. The 3-2 defeat in December 1982 in the Heysel Stadium was notable, however, for one of the greatest Scotland goals. Kenny Dalglish, who scored both goals for Scotland that night, finished off a solo run with a wonderful curling finish from long range - STV’s Scotsport show used the goal in their opening sequence for many a year after that!
One that got away
The two sides inevitably found themselves in the same group for qualifying for the 1988 finals, and although Scotland were thrashed 4-1 in the Parc Astrid in April 1987 (Paul McStay got the Scotland goal, while Tottenham’s Nico Claesen scored a hat-trick for the Belgians), they avenged that defeat with a 2-0 win at Hampden on 14 October that same year,
Belgium and Scotland’s rivalry continued during the qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup, but Craig Brown’s side managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory in March 2001. Leading 2-0 thanks to a double from Billy Dodds, and with Belgium down to ten men following the 27th minute dismissal of Eric Deflandre, the Scots lost their way dreadfully in the second half. Mark Wilmots hauled Belgium back into the game in the 58th minute then Hampden was silenced Daniel Van Buyten equalised int he 90th minute.
Belgian then rubbed salted into the wounds of Scotland by winning the return match 2-0 at the King Baudoin Stadion in September 2001, and 11 years passed before this current World Cup qualifying campaign pitted the two nations against each other once again.