Lukaku scores four in Belgium win, Serbia qualify for Euro 2024

Lukaku scores four in Belgium win, Serbia qualify for Euro 2024

© AFP 2022
November 19, 2023 at 7:50 PM
Romelu Lukaku was on song for Belgium against Azerbaijan
Romelu Lukaku was on song for Belgium against Azerbaijan. Photo: JOHN THYS / AFP
Source: AFP

Romelu Lukaku scored four goals as Belgium finished their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a 5-0 thrashing of Azerbaijan on Sunday, after Serbia booked their place at next year's finals in Germany.

Roma striker Lukaku extended his record tally of international goals for Belgium to 83, with all of his goals coming in a remarkable first half in Brussels.

He opened the scoring in the 17th minute by converting a Jeremy Doku cross, before Eddy Israfilov was shown a second yellow card seven minutes later to leave the Azeris with a mountain to climb.

Lukaku fired home shortly afterwards and then headed in Wout Faes' delivery to complete a hat-trick.

He rounded off his scoring spree of four goals in 20 minutes before being replaced by Lois Openda at half-time.

The Belgians took their foot off the gas in the second period but Leandro Trossard added a fifth in the 90th minute from another Doku assist.

Belgium finished top of Group F, one point clear of Austria, with both having wrapped up qualification with matches to spare.

Sweden ended a miserable campaign, in which they failed to qualify for a European Championship for the first time since 1996, with a 2-0 win over Estonia in the other game in the group.

Serbia qualified for the first time as an independent nation, after four previous failures to get to the main event, with a 2-2 draw against Bulgaria.

The Serbs finish second in Group G behind Hungary who snuffed out any hopes Montenegro had of progressing by beating them 3-1 in Budapest.

Serbia's players celebrate reaching the European Championship for the first time
Serbia's players celebrate reaching the European Championship for the first time. Photo: ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP
Source: AFP

"The players showed a mentality of not giving up, believing in themselves," said Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic.

"It's a big day for Serbian football. Serbia is finally at the European Championship.

"I congratulate my boys, who fought until the end and believed. We are happy and satisfied."

Centre-back Milos Veljkovic put Serbia ahead in the 17th minute before substitute Georgi Rusev levelled for Bulgaria in the 59th.

Ten minutes later Kiril Despodov put the visitors ahead but Srdjan Babic equalised eight minutes from time to ensure Serbia would become the 17th team to qualify for Euro 2024.

Montenegro needed Serbia to lose to have any hope of taking their place in Germany but also needed to win against the Hungarians who have eased impressively through qualifying.

Slobodan Rubezic put Montenegro ahead on 36 minutes but Hungary hit back in the second half with two goals in three minutes from Liverpool midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai before Zsolt Nagy rounded off the win in added time.

Later on Sunday, Portugal, Spain, Scotland and Slovakia, who have all already qualified, play their last matches.

© AFP 2022 photo
© AFP 2022