International round-up: Narrow margins leave Scotland and Wales to build for future

 

Fine margins often make all the difference in matches and that was the case for Scotland in their defeat by Belgium, in Jordan Rhodes's view.

The 2-0 home loss left Scotland at the bottom of World Cup qualifying Group A, but the striker saw positives as Gordon Strachan continues his rebuilding process.

Scott Brown fizzed a shot just wide from 30 yards when the scores were level and it was sloppy control by Steven Whittaker that allowed Manchester United's new signing Marouane Fellaini to send Kevin De Bruyne away to set up Steven Defour, the Porto midfielder opening the scoring with a shot that went in off a post.

Rhodes, who replaced Leigh Griffiths during the second half, said: "We were playing against a very good side. You could possibly dissect the game into ifs and buts. Scott Brown's strike early in the first half looked like only millimetres away to us lot on the bench. If that goes in, we go 1-0 up and the game would be a whole different story.

"It was a matter of getting that first goal and unfortunately for us they managed to get it.

"I think we can take plenty of positives. They are a fantastic team with many great players. But we put in some good performances."

Scotland struggled to threaten the Belgian goal despite their possession, Belgium's second, by Everton's Kevin Mirallas in the 88th minute, again followed an individual mistake, this time by Grant Hanley.

"We threw caution to the wind a little bit and threw myself and Ross McCormack on and went a little bit more direct," the Blackburn striker said. "You are going to leave yourself a little bit open at the back."

For Chris Coleman's Wales, in the same group, hopes of a point that could have kept alive their faint chance of qualfying were dashed 10 minutes from time in their 2-1 defeat in Macedonia.

That was not the way Sam Ricketts wanted to celebrate his 50th cap, but the absence of Gareth Bale, kept on the bench by doubts over his fitness, hardly helped.

"The future is still looking good, the attacking players we have are very special and if we control the game like we did against Macedonia with players like that more often than not we will win," Ricketts, a Wolves defender, said.

"I think we will be in the mix for Euro 2016 but we have not written this campaign off yet. People may say we don't need to worry about this campaign, we want to win these games and finish as high as we can."

Just like Scotland, Wales need to finish as high in their group as possible to aid their ranking for the draws for future competitions.

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