Two goals in three minutes midway through the second half gave Belgium a deserved 2-0 victory over Scotland in Brussels.
It was a third qualifying win in four matches for Marc Wilmots' unbeaten side, who remain top of Group A on goal difference. However only after 69 minutes did Christian Benteke and Vincent Kompany finally break the resistance of a magnificent Allan McGregor in the Scotland goal.
Dynamic and incisive from the outset, Belgium were only denied a third-minute lead by an astounding trio of saves from McGregor. The keeper twice diverted Dries Mertens efforts from point-blank range before somehow foiling Nacer Chadli – a player he frustrated further soon after. Scotland tried to regroup and Shaun Maloney twice saw free-kicks pawed away by Thibaut Courtois on rare forays forward, but Belgium ran the show, and Chadli and Moussa Dembélé both went close.
Benteke headed Toby Alderweireld's cross against the bar and McGregor squeezed away Kevin De Bruyne's swerving shot as Belgium's pressure intensified after the restart. The Scotland custodian was powerless, however, to stop Benteke's thumping back-post header from De Bruyne's cross on 69 minutes, or indeed captain Kompany's drive just two minutes later. It was a strike that deserved to settle any contest, as the centre-back swiftly shuffled the ball between his feet to work a glimpse of goal before rifling into the top-right corner.
Belgium will continue their bid for a first FIFA World Cup appearance since 2002 with a double header with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in March. As for struggling Scotland they will host Wales then still seeking their first win.