Sports Desk, Nov 20 (EFE).- Romelu Lukaku smashed four goals in Belgium’s 5-0 win over Azerbaijan to set up a new record as the qualifying tournament for next year’s European Championship in Germany drew closer to an end on Sunday.
Romelu Lukaku (top) of Belgium scores his fourth goal under pressure from Hojjat Haghverdi of Azerbaijan during the UEFA EURO 2024 Group F qualification match between Belgium and Azerbaijan in Brussels, Belgium, 19 November 2023. EFE-EPA/OLIVIER MATTHYS
Serbia were the latest team to qualify for the tournament after a 2-2 draw against Bulgaria, joining 15 other teams and hosts Germany in the final round.
Bulgaria’s Kiril Despodov (L) scores the 1-2 past Serbia’s Andrija Zivkovic (R) during the UEFA EURO 2024 Group G qualification match between Serbia and Bulgaria in Leskovac, Serbia, 19 November 2023. EFE-EPA/ANDREJ CUKIC
Spain, Scotland, France, the Netherlands, England, Turkey, Albania, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Romania, Switzerland, Portugal, and Slovakia are the other teams to qualify for the tournament so far.
Spain’s defenders Robin Le Normand (L) and Inigo Martinez (C) duel for the ball with Georgia’s defender Luka Lochoshvili (R) during the UEFA EURO 2024 Group A qualification match between Spain and Georgia at Jose Zorrilla stadium in Valladolid, Spain, 19 November 2023. EFE-EPA/R. Garcia
Serbia needed only a point to end their 24-year wait to qualify for the European Championship, and they achieved it through Srđan Babic’s equalizer eight minutes from time.
Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes (R) in action against Iceland’s Hjortur Hermannsson (L) during the UEFA EURO 2024 Group J qualifying soccer match between Portugal and Iceland in Lisbon, Portugal, 19 November 2023. EFE-EPA/RODRIGO ANTUNES
Milos Veljkovic put Serbia ahead in the first half before Rusev and Kiril Despodov scored for Bulgaria, threatening to spoil the party in Leskovac.
Portugal’s Ricardo Horta (R) in action against Iceland’s Gudmundur Thorarinsson (L) during the UEFA EURO 2024 Group J qualifying soccer match between Portugal and Iceland in Lisbon, Portugal, 19 November 2023. EFE-EPA/MIGUEL A. LOPES
Lukaku scored four goals in the space of 21 minutes in the first half against 10-man Azerbaijan to take his tally to 14 in the competition.
The Roma striker surpassed the record of 13 goals set by Northern Ireland’s David Healy in 2008 and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski in 2016, respectively.
Leandro Trossard added a late fifth goal to complete the misery of Azerbaijan, who had defensive midfielder Eddy Pascual sent off in the first 24 minutes of the first half.
Group Spain secured a 3-1 win over Georgia in Valladolid, with Robin Le Normand and Ferran Torres finding the back of the net for the former champions.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia pulled one goal back between their strikes, but a Luka Lochoshvili’s own goal from Lamine Yamal’s cross ensured Spain left the field with a convincing win.
Bruno Fernandes and Ricardo Horta scored in Portugal’s 2-0 win over Iceland, while Scotland was held 3-3 by Norway in other highlights of the day.
The Euro 2024 qualifying round will end on Tuesday, and the draw for the tournament is set for Thursday at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
Twenty teams will qualify for the finals in Germany through the group stage, while another three will join the hosts through the play-offs. EFE