McLeish admits Belgium defeat is a ‘harsh lesson’ for Scotland

Syndicate Post image

Alex McLeish will take any blame going after mistakes cost Scotland dearly in their 4-0 friendly defeat by Belgium at Hampden.

Romelu Lukaku’s goal after 28 minutes – after John McGinn had been robbed by Mousa Dembele- gave the World Cup semi-finalists a deserved interval lead.

Eden Hazard thundered in a second within a minute of the restart before half-time substitute Michy Batshuayi, on loan at Valencia from Chelsea, capitalised on errors to score twice in seven minutes to hand the Scots their biggest home defeat since a 5-0 loss to England in 1973.

The match was a warm-up for the UEFA Nations League opener against Albania at the national stadium on Monday night and McLeish played down the quality of opponent.

He said: “It (Belgium) looked the best choice for me. We have to test ourselves.

“But for the first goal we are probably going in all square and you don’t know what is going to happen in the second half.

“It is a catalogue of errors but if anyone is going to take the blame it’s me for telling them they have to pass it.

“What we have done is encourage players to pass the ball.

Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring for Belgium after a defensive mistake from John McGinn
Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring for Belgium after a defensive mistake from John McGinn (Ian Rutherford/PA)

“We don’t want to take risks. I don’t think John was in a risky situation, a bit of miscontrol but he had a good game.

“I know Charlie Mulgrew can pass the ball and he was just caught out and then Ryan Jack getting caught on the ball.

“The guys have to learn fast. It is harsh lessons, big lessons for the young ones especially.”

It was McLeish’s fifth friendly match in his second spell as Scotland boss and he has one win and four defeats to contemplate ahead of the real business which starts against the Albanians, with a view to making the 2020 European Championship.

Alex McLeish has had a tough start to his second spell in charge of Scotland
Alex McLeish has had a tough start to his second spell in charge of Scotland (Ian Rutherford/PA)

He said: “If you analyse it immediately – and I will look at it tomorrow –  then mistakes cost us. I thought we were doing okay in the first half then made a mistake and lost a goal.

“At this level against a team of that stature, the consequences are devastating.

“At club level sometimes you get away with that four or five times before you lose a goal but at this level, it has terrible consequences.”

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez, whose side play Iceland in their Nations League opener on Tuesday night, said: “It was a perfect exercise for both teams, we understand the games that matter are the next ones, which are the opening games in the Nations League games.

“It was a real test of how we were going to react after the World Cup, a real emotional ride.

“We showed good focus and concentration and we had that. It was a very good exercise for Tuesday.

“Take the scoreline away, We were very clinical in front of goal. We have players who can decide in one action.

“I was delighted with the attitude of everyone.”

Cancel