Scotland have been halted on their supposed road to Rio after just four qualifying matches. Pressure will now intensify on the nation's football association to confirm the end of the line for Craig Levein.

This fully merited win for Belgium – they bombarded the visitors at times – leaves Scotland with just two points from those opening four Group A fixtures. In not progressing to the World Cup, Scotland will have their run without a finals appearance extended to 18 years. To add insult to apparently never-ending misery, the Scots are bottom of their section.

Levein, who has never been embraced by the Scotland support, is on the brink. A banner unfurled after Belgium's second goal reading "Strachan SOS" highlights a desire from some supporters to appoint the former Celtic manager.

The SFA has backed Levein but must now work against popular opinion or bow to the inevitable before March, when Scotland restart their now fruitless 2014 bid. It seems logical that it has a simple choice to make: stick with Levein for a further campaign or allow another manager ample opportunity to prepare for that.

Levein, when asked whether he would consider resigning, said: "Not at all. I am very proud to be manager of my country and want to continue. I want to remain as the manager. That is what I want to do. Other than that, you will have to ask other people. It is impossible for me to answer [what the SFA may do]."

There was support, at least, from the dressing room. "The players believe in the manager," insisted the Scotland captain, Darren Fletcher.

This was no light Scottish assignment. Belgium are one of the hottest young teams in international football, the consequence of the kind of overhaul of their national game which Scotland is slowly imposing. Belgium's hunger is to end an absence from major tournaments dating back to 2002; it must be recognised that they, too, have not been slow to dispense with managers during the intervening years.

That home appetite was evident after just two minutes, with Scotland relying on wastefulness and superb goalkeeping. Dries Mertens pounced after a Gary Caldwell error inside the penalty area, and two superb blocks within seconds of each other from Allan McGregor prevented Belgium from earning the early lead they craved.

Those opportunities served only to intensify an already cracking Brussels atmosphere. The Scots were toiling to cope defensively, with McGregor again producing acrobatics to deny Nacer Chadli. Christian Benteke was the next to be afforded a chance, the striker failing to connect with the ball when in front of a gaping goal.

Brief Scotland respite arrived from a set play. Shaun Maloney's effort from 25 yards forced Thibaut Courtois to claw the ball out of the top right corner of his goal. Scotland again threatened from a free-kick before the interval, Kris Commons supplying the shot which again had Courtois sprawling across his goal to save.

The second period immediately continued the flow of the first. Benteke headed against the top of McGregor's crossbar with the goalkeeper stranded four minutes after the restart.

Belgium had introduced Chelsea's Eden Hazard during the interval, doubtless in the hope he could summon the first goal which would fatally wound the Scots. Hazard's first attempt, a volley from 20 yards, was desperately blocked by Caldwell. Thereafter, glimpses of Belgian frustration appeared and that included in the stands, with McGregor's booking for time-wasting when half an hour remained provoking vociferous complaints from the home support.

Scotland almost intensified that annoyance but their substitute Jamie Mackie was narrowly beaten to the ball by Jan Vertonghen. That was to prove the final glimpse of Scottish salvation.

Benteke headed Belgium in front, rising at the back post to meet a wonderful cross from Kevin De Bruyne. In the buildup Scotland had criminally switched off at the time of a short corner.

The advantage was doubled just two minutes later. Vincent Kompany, hardly renowned for such potency, lashed a shot past McGregor from the edge of the Scotland penalty area. The Tartan Army, who had displayed hints at optimism, were consigned to silence by the harsh reality that Scotland's World Cup dream is over in all but name.

"It looks very difficult, doesn't it, with two points out of 12," conceded Levein. He can, at least, manage a perfectly good line in understatement.