Scotland salvage a point with late leveler
Scotland fought to the end, and it paid off with a beautiful header from Sophie Howard in the 93rd minute!
The teams went into this game with a close record; Scotland and Belgium have played each other 11 times, with each side recording five victories against the other. Both teams would’ve been hoping to take home some points on the night as the Nations League is an extremely important competition when it comes to the 2025 European Championship.
Scotland and Belgium are currently in Group A of the Nations League. If they were to drop to Group B, then they would potentially have to face a tougher team in the first round of Euros qualification play-offs.
Scotland manager Martinez Losa named an unchanged line-up at Hampden. Before the game, he said: “I think it’s [the unchanged line-up] important for the players. They are given a role and they are finding that consistency between all of them. But at the same time, we are missing players that can bring things to the team.”
Both teams had an interesting set-up as the game kicked off. Scotland put in a fantastic performance against World Cup finalists England, but they couldn’t get the result they wanted. Belgium clearly wanted to ensure that they would have a difficult night in the final third, and this started with a five-at-the-back off the ball setup
Despite a promising start from Scotland, the Tartan Army started to worry when Real Madrid midfielder Caroline Weir went down; she stretched for the ball and had to receive treatment for her knee as a result. She was taken to the sidelines but just a few minutes later, she returned to the pitch. This didn’t last long as in the 20th minute she sadly was forced to come off, replaced by Amy Rodgers.
As the clock ticked on, Belgium continued to play the way they had planned. Whenever Scotland attempted to play the ball into the final third, a Belgian player was on them like glue. Scotland fought through the aggression, however, and the ball found Christy Grimshaw’s head from a free kick. The attempt was held by the Belgian keeper with ease.
The first controversy of the game would come in the 34th minute, when the Belgium players claimed that the ball had struck the arm of Scotland captain Rachel Corsie. The referee did not see the alleged handball, but there was no video assistant referee present for the game.
Another chance for Scotland as Grimshaw sent a fierce header towards the Belgium goal. Nicky Evrard made a fantastic save to deny the Scotland midfielder.
With that, the curtains closed on the first half and the teams made their way inside for a half-time team talk. Scotland should have been up after a few good chances on the night, but both teams were yet to find a breakthrough. After a wrong call on Friday going against Scotland due to the lack of VAR, they may have gotten lucky on this occasion as the Corsie handball seemed certain to everyone watching at home.
Belgium came out stronger in the second half after Scotland impressed most in the first 45. Their first attempt came just six minutes into the half, when a free kick was headed over the crossbar for a corner.
From the set piece, Kassandra Missipo was given an easy finish at the back-post to put Belgium 1-0 up.
Scotland should have done better for the first goal, and they seemed to collapse as a result of it. Sophie Howard gave the ball away to Marie Detruyer, but she could only put it wide and Scotland were let off.
Scotland went close after Corsie’s header went just wide of the goal. She couldn’t get it right but she didn’t have time to think about that as she had work to do at the other end of the pitch. Belgium raced forward to put themselves in a good amount of space, with Corsie being the only defender back. She played the two-on-one situation extremely well and jumped on a poor pass from the attackers to keep them away from the Scotland net.
The lack of chances for Scotland put Belgium in a good position as they began to feel more comfortable as the game approached the final whistle. They were more composed on the ball than ever before, and Scotland had to increase the intensity of the game if they were to get anything out of it.
What seemed to be the final chance for Scotland came in the 89th minute. Amy Gallacher, who is in form for Celtic this season, had the ball heading her way but she failed to get enough on the header and steered it wide.
With three minutes of injury time on the clock, Scotland needed to act. After winning a free kick in Belgium’s half, Scotland goalkeeper Lee Gibson made her way up the pitch to send it into the box. She put in a fantastic ball, finding the head of Sophie Howard, who looped it over the keeper to equalise with the final touch of the game.
Speaking about the late goal, Howard said: “It hit my head, it hit my bun, it went in and that’s all I can remember. I was thinking: ‘We need to score this’ and we did.”
Scotland should taken more from the game but they didn’t do enough to win all three points. While the performance wasn’t as great as the shift they put in against England, it still showed signs of promise and quality that will hopefully take them to the Euros.
Belgium fans are not happy with the result, as they believe that with VAR Belgium would’ve claimed all three points. The common consensus on social media is that Howard had strayed slightly offside for the equaliser.
Next in Group A1 of the UEFA Women’s Nations League, Scotland visit the Netherlands on Friday, October 27th, at 19:45. Belgium go head-to-head with England on the same day and time. Both Scotland and Belgium are away from home.
Will Scotland be able to keep themselves in Group A?
Scotland 1 – 1 Belgium
Missipo 52′, Howard 90+4′
Scotland Starting XI
Alexander; McLauchlan, Howard, Corsie (C), Docherty; Grimshaw, Kerr, Weir; Emslie, Thomas, Hanson.
Belgium Starting XI
Evrard; Delacauw, Kees, De Neve, Deloose; de Caigny, Missipo, Vanhaevermaet; Detruyer, Wullaert (C), Blom.