Scotland scored deep into stoppage time to secure a late point in a tough UEFA Women’s Nations League match against a very physical Belgian side.
Scotland had looked destined to suffer successive defeats following Friday’s loss to England, after fine saves from Nicky Evrard, the early loss of Caroline Weir to injury and Kassandra Missipo’s header, which gave Belgium the advantage.
However, Howard rose to nudge in a potentially precious leveler in a section that will also, in part, help determine qualification for the next Euros.
Belgium’s win over the Dutch on Friday was their first in five outings, while Scotland had their six-game unbeaten run ended in Sunderland.
However, the hosts had emerged from running the European champions close with renewed confidence and started the brighter.
Winger Claire Emslie had a shot deflected just wide and midfielder Christy Grimshaw forced a point-blank save from goalkeeper Evrard.
As the visitors settled, Marie Detruyer shot across the face of goal and, while Scotland were down to 10 with Real Madrid’s Weir off receiving treatment, Jassina Blom dispossessed Sam Kerr but fired weakly at Gibson.
Weir made a brave attempt to return, but Scotland were soon shorn of the midfielder as she broke down again to be replaced with Amy Rodgers after only 20 minutes.
Scotland found themselves further under pressure as Belgium claimed for a penalty after the ball brushed Rachel Corsie’s arm before the home captain’s forehead deflected a Sari Kees drive over the crossbar. Evrard saved superbly after Grimshaw twisted athletically to head towards the far corner shortly before the break.
However, it was Belgium who were to find a way through seven minutes after the restart when midfielder Missipo was found unmarked at the back post after Scotland failed to clear a corner.
All looked lost for the disjointed Scots, but in the frantic closing stages, Corsie headed just wide, made a last-ditch intervention and Amy Gallacher glanced another effort before Howard rose highest to send Hampden Park into raptures.
Real Madrid fans will be sweating Weir's fitness and hoping that its not serious.