A day after France put 14 goals past Gibraltar without reply their neighbours Belgium weren’t as prolific but equally ruthless as they ran out 5-0 winners over Azerbaijan.
Domenico Tedesco’s side had already booked their spot at next summer’s European Championship but knew a win this evening would secure top spot in qualifying Group F ahead of fellow qualifier Austria.
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The game’s turning point came in the 24th minute when Eddy Pascual collected a second yellow soon after receiving his first. The hosts were already 1-0 up through Roma marksman Romelu Lukaku and the former Premier League striker wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity.
Belgium’s all-time leading scorer netted three more goals in an 11-minute span following Azerbaijan being reduced to 10 men. Lukaku now has three international hat-tricks with this being the first occasion he scored four times in a single game for the Red Devils.
Furthermore, no Belgian international had before struck four times within a single half. Interestingly, each of his goals was created by someone different: Jérémy Doku, Timothy Castagne, Wout Faes and Orel Mangala which further underlined the creativity of this hungry Belgian side.
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) November 19, 2023
Castagne would have an effort ruled out for offside before half-time though after the break it seemed there would be no more goals before Leandro Trossard popped up in stoppage time. It capped off an incredible performance with Lukaku at the centre of everything.
His four-goal haul sees him end on 14 goals in this qualifying campaign, surpassing Northern Ireland’s David Healy in 2008 and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski in 2016 for the most strikes in a single set of European Championship preliminaries.