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Clarke: Scotland now focused on third place and play-off

The national team boss says Group I is over after 4-0 defeat to Belgium.

Scotland boss Steve Clarke has said that automatic qualification for Euro 2020 is now beyond his side and the target now is to finish the group in good form and progress via the play-offs.

The 4-0 defeat to Belgium at Hampden all but ended the chances of finishing second in Group I but Scotland have the second chance to make the European finals via the play-off spot that was secured in last year's Nations League.

With his side now sitting in fifth place in their group, Clarke dismissed any talk of how it was still mathematically possible to overhaul Russia in second place.

"The group's over in terms of qualification," he said.

"It doesn't look good where we are in the table now. There's 12 points up for grabs and we have to make sure we finish third in the group, in terms of rankings and seedings.

"And if we finish third it will mean we have performed well, which should give us confidence going into the play-off games in March."

The coach reflected on a bruising defeat to Belgium where he acknowledged that the better team won but was unhappy with the nature of the goals conceded. Clarke did find some crumbs of comfort in the performance, where he said there was something to build on in the games ahead.

"We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half from our set play, 10 seconds later we are 1-0 down after nine minutes," he said.

"It was a decent nine minutes, we started on the front foot again and pressed well, but then we have been heavily punished from two corner kicks.

"We spoke before the game, when you play against a team of Belgium's quality, who are capable of scoring from open play, it's almost imperative that you don't concede from set-pieces and from three set-pieces we find ourselves 3-0 down, having played some good football in the first half.

"Even at 1-0 we didn't buckle, we stayed strong, tried to press and move the ball, but it's very difficult to try and sell positives when you have lost 4-0 at home."

"I think if people look at certain aspects of the game, the way we tried to pass the ball, the way we tried to press a very good team.

"It's difficult to press Belgium because they pass the ball very well, but at times we got it right.

"You can't avoid the scoreline and I'm not trying to avoid the scoreline but there were moments in the game where we looked as though we could become a decent team given time to grow."

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