From the archive: Dalglish sparkles but Scotland are beaten in Brussels - Thursday, 16 December 1982
Mike Aitken sees Scotland delight and dismay in 3-2 loss
SCOTLAND at their most mercurial contrived to delight and dismay and finally spurn the chance of securing the draw they so thoroughly deserved in the Heysel Stadium. In spite of an outstanding individual contribution from Kenny Dalglish and an overall display which rated as a vast improvement on Switzerland, the old failing of self-inflicted wounds cost the Scots dear.
Dalglish’s two brilliant goals should have been enough to give the Scots at least a share of the points. However, Jim Leighton had a tentative, unsure night in goal and Frank Gray missed a penalty near the end.
The latter miss was all the more frustrating because at that time Scotland had two of the game’s most consistent penalty takers – John Robertson and Gordon Strachan – on the bench.
They weren’t able to play any part in the award because of a substitution in the 76th minute when Tommy Burns and Paul Sturrock had come on and Strachan and Jim Bett had gone off.
It was most frustrating to go down to goals from Van der Elst, who got two, and Vanderburgh as the Scots had showed immeasurable improvement from their last visit to this ground four years ago.
Jock Stein’s tactics worked well and there was a mix of conviction and skill which would have been enough to take something from the game for a less jinxed team than Scotland.
There was pace and drive in midfield, good covering at the back and in attack Steve Archibald had his busiest, most effective game for some time.
The Belgians were bewildered for long spells by Stein’s formation – though it has to be said in their favour that Van der Elst took his chances cleanly and the team didn’t make the gaffes which cost Scotland dear.
In what was a superbly entertaining match on a most unpleasant night of heavy rain and driving wind, the Scots coped admirably with dangermen like Vercauteren and Coeck and at no point were they overrun, as they were here the last time.
Belgium weren’t allowed to counter-attack freely and they had to work much harder for a result in the game than they did against Switzerland. Guy Thys’s side were rattled by the loss of early goals and were not allowed to play the game they like best.
It was encouraging the way Scotland linked between defence and attack, adjusting to new tactics with some degree of versatility. At times their play was of the calibre seen against the Soviet Union in the World Cup and it was ironic to recall how things had gone wrong on that occasion to cost Scotland dear.
Stein was to remark afterwards: “How can a guy like Kenny Dalglish score two goals like that and still finish on the losing side?”
The match was a personal triumph for Dalglish, and had Scotland enjoyed secure goalkeeping from Leighton in first half then they would surely have been in front at the interval.
The Liverpool striker, who had been kept out of Scotland’s last visit to the Heysel, played with subtlety and expertise in the opening 45 minutes. It is doubtful if in all his 89 matches for Scotland he has had a more productive first half.
As Stein’s new defensive system also worked well, it was disheartening to find the goalkeeper in such a shaky mood – he was unhappy with crossed balls from the start and was too easily beaten for comfort.
With Alex McLeish marking Vandenbergh and Alan Hansen taking Van der Elst it was Roy Aitken who had the role of spare man at the back. As expected Gray and Dave Narey pushed forward to block runs from the midfield and the Scots enjoyed a most satisfactory opening spell. They passed neatly and broke intelligently – so much so that Belgium struggled to get into a pattern of play which the Scots were dictating.
A thrilling break from inside their own half got Scotland the opening goal in the 13th minute. Bett won the ball close to the halfway line and fed Dalglish, who found Archibald, running into space, with a superb pass.
The Spurs striker turned to move in on goal and clipped a pass back into the path of Dalglish who finished strongly by bending the ball out of Jean-Marie Pfaff’s reach.
Belgium hit back in the 24th minute. The move was constructed down the left where Vercautern made a good run and dispatched a cross which Leighton misjudged. The ball broke happily for Vandenbergh and he smacked in an easy equaliser from ten yards.
Remarkably, however, Scotland regained the advantage in the 36th minute thanks to an outrageous piece of skill by Dalglish.
The move was begun by Strachan, and Graeme Souness played the ball in to his Liverpool colleague on the edge of the box.
Dalglish killed the pass, swivelled and left two defenders stranded before ghosting past Gerets and unleashing an astonishing left-foot shot which sped past Pfaff into the roof of the net.
Scotland can have scored few more memorable goals in recent years and it was most unfortunate that Dalglish’s dazzling contribution wasn’t enough to give a half-time lead.
With just six minutes before the interval, Van der Elst was given the space to shoot from 12 yards and beat Leighton with ease.
The Scots were lively after the break but the feeling grew that a third goal was not far away for the hosts.
This proved the case when a sweeping move ended with Van der Elst striking his own second of the night to give Belgium the lead at a decisive stage.
In the final phase, Souness had the feet taken from him and the Portuguese referee immediately pointed at the spot.
After what seemed an inordinate delay, Gray struck a tame shot which Pfaff moved very quickly to punch round the post.
Belgium: Pfaff; Gerets, Daerden, Meeuws, Baecke, Vercautern, Van der Elst; Vandersmissen, Vandenbergh, Coeck, Ceulemans. Subs: Munaron, Deschrijver, Verheyen, Clysters, Voordeckers.
Scotland: Leighton (Aberdeen); McLeish (Aberdeen), F Gray (Leeds), Hansen (Liverpool), Narey (Dundee Utd); Aitken (Celtic), Strachan (Aberdeen), Souness, Bett (Rangers); Dalglish (Liverpool), Archibald (Tottenham). Subs: Stewart (Rangers), Wark (Ipswich), Burns (Celtic), Robertson (Nottm Forest), Sturrock (Dundee Utd).
Referee: A Garrido (Portugal).
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West