JORDAN RHODES today lamented Scotland’s failure to score first against Belgium and claimed the match would have taken on a different complexion had Scott Brown’s first-half effort found the net.
Marc Wilmots’ side recorded a comfortable 2-0 win at Hampden Park through goals from Steven Defour and Kevin Mirallas. They now have a five-point lead at the top of Group A and need only one more point to guarantee their place at World Cup 2014 in Brazil next summer.
Scotland, meanwhile, were left bottom of the qualifying section as a result of their defeat. Rhodes, a second-half substitute, pinpointed Brown’s distant shot in the first period when the score was 0-0 as a potential turning point.
“It’s one that you look back on. We were playing against a very good side,” said the Blackburn Rovers striker. “You could dissect the game into ifs and buts. Scott Brown’s strike looked only millimetres away from where I was sat on the bench.
“If that goes in and we are 1-0 up at half-time, the game’s a whole different strory. It was a matter of getting that first goal and unfortunately they got it.”
Defour converted Kevin De Bruyne’s cross on 38 minutes and Mirallas made certain of victory in the dying minutes after entering the fray as a substitute. Scotland had brought Rhodes and Ross McCormack on with the score at 1-0 in an effort to get back into the match, but the changes were made in vain.
“We threw caution to the wind and chucked myself and Ross McCormack on and went a bit more direct,” added Rhodes. “You’re going to leave yourself a bit open at the back. As a striker, I’d rather get beat 2-0 than 1-0. Attack-minded players want the ball forward to do something up that end. Unfortunately, Belgium got in at the other end and finished their chance well.
“I think we can take plenty positives. They are a fantastic team with many a great player in there. We put in some good performances. A roll of the ball here or there and you never know, it could have been a whole different story.”
Scotland now head to Macedonia on Tuesday looking for a result to take them off the bottom of the group and salvage some pride from a World Cup qualifying campaign which has been largely disappointing.