Lukaku hits 50th goal in Belgium’s romp to finals
Romelu Lukaku scored his 50th international goal as Belgium thrashed San Marino 9-0 and became the first side through to the Euro 2020 finals.
Unbeaten Belgium have 21 points from seven games, with only one goal conceded. Russia, who hammered Scotland 4-0 last night, are on 18, and Cyprus, 2-1 winners over Kazakhstan in Astana, are on 10. The top two in each group qualify directly.
San Marino managed to keep a clean sheet for 27 minutes against the top-ranked 2018 World Cup semi-finalists before, as expected, the Group I floodgates opened at the King Baudouin stadium in Brussels. Former Chelsea, Everton and Manchester United striker Lukaku, who is now at Inter Milan, became the first Belgian to reach a half-century of international goals with a right-footed shot to open the scoring and soon followed up with his second.
Croatia remain on course to reach Euro 2020 after two goals from striker Bruno Petkovic helped them to a 3-0 home win over Hungary in Group E. The Croatians top the group with 13 points from six matches and will secure a berth in next year’s finals with a match to spare if they beat Wales away on Sunday.
Slovakia are second on 10 points from six matches, one ahead of third-placed Hungary, while Wales are fourth with seven points from five games after their 1-1 draw in Slovakia last night. Bottom team Azerbaijan have one point.
The Croatians dominated after captain Luka Modric fired them into a fifth-minute lead when he picked up a loose ball in midfield, raced down the middle and steered a shot past Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi. Petkovic made it 2-0 with a delightful back-heel from close range after Ante Rebic left his marker for dead on the left flank and squared the ball to the Dinamo Zagreb striker.
A catalogue of defensive errors allowed Petkovic to bundle in the third late in the first half, as Tamas Kadar and Gulacsi misjudged Ivan Perisic’s low cross from the right.
Gulacsi made amends in the 55th minute when he saved Perisic’s penalty after Rebic was fouled but any hopes of a Hungary comeback were dashed moments later when Laszlo Kleinheisler was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick for Group G leaders Poland – his sixth for his country – as they won 3-0 away to bottom side Latvia.