Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku scored four first-half goals to lead a 5-0 rout of 10-man Azerbaijan in their final European Championship qualifying game, while Serbia locked up its spot at Euro 2024 after drawing 2-2 with Bulgaria on Sunday.
Lukaku leads scoring in the qualifiers with 14 goals, four more than Cristiano Ronaldo before his Portugal team plays Iceland later.
Lukaku’s haul set a record for European Championship qualifying, beating the previous mark of 13 goals held by Poland’s Robert Lewandowski (in Euro 2016 qualifying) and Northern Ireland’s David Healy (Euro 2008 qualifying).
The Roma striker took all four of his goals between the 17th and 37th minutes in an awesome display of clinical finishing.
Following Lukaku’s opener to make it 1-0, Azerbajian was down to 10 players in the 24th after Eddy Pascual got his second yellow card.
“It was an outstanding performance by Romelu,” Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco said. “He scored with every shot. You can’t do better.”
Belgium had already qualified along with Austria from Group F before the game in Brussels, but the victory meant it finished in first place. Sweden beat Estonia 2-0 and ended up third in the group.
Lukaku, who was also celebrating his son’s birthday, said that his team was poised to “go far” in Germany.
Lukaku started qualifying by scoring a hat trick against Sweden in March. The 30-year-old striker only failed to score in one of the eight qualifying games. Azerbaijan frustrated him in September in a 1-0 win for Belgium.
He has also scored nine goals in 14 games for Roma since he was loaned to the Italian club from Chelsea in the offseason.
Serbia needed a draw or for Montenegro to not beat Hungary to advance to next year’s tournament in Germany.
There was a moment when Serbia appeared to be in trouble after Montenegro went ahead 1-0 against Hungary while Bulgaria led Serbia 2-1.
But Serbia defender Srdan Babic’s equalizer in the 82nd ensured that it needed no help.
The already-qualified Hungary rallied to beat Montenegro 3-1, led by midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai’s brace.
Hungary finished Group G with 18 points. Serbia was second with 14, and Montenegro third with 11.
Hungary secured its place on Thursday when it won at Bulgaria. The match was marred by violence when local fans clashed with police on the streets of Sofia during a protest over the management of the national soccer union.
Only the top two finishers from each of the 10 groups advance. Another three spots will be determined in a playoff linked to performances in the Nations League. Host Germany automatically qualifies.
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