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Euro 2020 qualifiers: Kevin de Bruyne inspires Belgium to crush Scotland 4-0

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Belgium

Belgium kept their 100 percent record intact in Euro 2020 qualifying Group I with a 4-0 crushing of a disappointing Scotland side at a subdued Hampden Park on Monday.

Roberto Martinez’s side, top of the FIFA rankings, were a class above their hosts as they scored three times before halftime through Romelu Lukaku, Thomas Vermaelen and Toby Alderweireld — all created by Kevin de Bruyne.

De Bruyne then capped a superb individual display with a clinical finish late on.

Victory left Belgium with 18 points from six games, three more than second-placed Russia who needed an 89th-minute goal by Mario Fernandes to beat Kazakhstan 1-0.

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The top two go through to next year’s finals.

Scotland’s joint heaviest home defeat means their slender hopes of qualifying from the group are virtually over, although they could still reach the tournament via the Nations League playoffs, with a semi-final place already secured.

Belgium needed only nine minutes to take the lead with their first serious foray into Scottish territory.

Moments after Scotland had a free kick at the other end, Belgium counter-attacked in deadly fashion with Dries Mertens driving forward before finding De Bruyne who rolled a pass across the pitch for Lukaku to score with ease.

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It completely knocked the stuffing out of the Scots and it was 2-0 in the 24th minute when De Bruyne whipped in a cross and Vermaelen arrived to side-foot past keeper David Marshall.

The game was effectively over already and Scotland’s night got even worse in the 32nd minute when De Bruyne swung over a corner and an unmarked Alderweireld headed in off the crossbar.

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It was a passion-less display by Scotland and Belgium could afford the luxury of playing the rest of the match in cruise control as they claimed another easy three points.

De Bruyne saved the best goal to last as he planted a first-time shot past Marshall after being played in by Lukaku.

Scotland dropped to second from bottom in the table after Cyprus beat San Marino 4-0 to move above the Scots by a point.

 

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Pedro undergoes surgery for shoulder injury

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Chelsea’s Spanish winger Pedro has had surgery, following a shoulder injury he sustained during Saturday’s FA Cup final defeat by Arsenal.

Pedro had replaced forward Christian Pulisic in the game which Chelsea lost 2-1, after the American, who scored in the first half, pulled up with a hamstring problem.

“The surgery went well, I will be back soon. It was a pity not to win the FA Cup. Thank you all for your support,” the 33-year-old Pedro said on Instagram on Tuesday.

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Pedro, whose Chelsea deal expires at the end of the month, has reportedly agreed a move to Italian Serie A side AS Roma on a free transfer.

Reuters

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Iker Casillas retires

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Spain’s World Cup-winning captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas announced his retirement from the professional game at the age of 39 on Tuesday.

The former Real Madrid skipper had called time on his five-year spell with side Porto in July after his contract with the Portuguese club expired.

Casillas had suffered a heart attack during a training session last year and has not played any competitive football since April 2019.

“The important thing is the path you travel and the people who accompany you, not where it takes you, because that comes with work and effort alone, and I think I can say, without hesitation, that the path I have taken is the one I dreamt about #Thanks,” Casillas said on Twitter.

Casillas was given a role on Porto’s technical staff at the start of last season and was included in the first-team squad, although he was never named in a matchday squad.

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Reuters

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Emmanuel Adebayor names ‘best coach in history of football’ but it’s not Wenger

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Former Arsenal striker, Emmanuel Adebayor, has named Tottenham Hotspur coach, Jose Mourinho, as the best manager in the world.

Adebayor, who played under Mourinho during their time together at Real Madrid, has also featured under different great managers including, Arsene Wenger, Didier Deschamps, Harry Redknapp, Roberto Mancini and Mauricio Pochettinho in the past.

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But the Togolese star believes Mourinho is the best in history, adding that he won his only trophy in his career under the Portuguese at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“I love Mourinho, we had a great relationship, and he was the one who brought me to Madrid, although it wasn’t easy for him to find a place for me in the side,” Adebayor told AS.

“The only trophy I have ever won was at Madrid with him. Now he’s at Tottenham, and I wish him the best of luck. He is the best coach in the history of football.”

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