Lukaku goals lead Belgium to being first to book place at Euro 2020 finals

October 11 – Belgium have become the first team to qualify for Euro 2020 after a 9-0 demolition job of amateurs San Marino. 

Roberto Martinez’s team had few problems with the minnows and Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring after the half-hour mark to register his 50th  international goal in his 83rd appearance.

Lukaku added a second before half-time, but not before Nacer Chadli and a Cristian Brolli own goal had made the result safe. At the interval, Belgium already enjoyed a 6-0 lead following a second own goal from Andrea Grandoni and a stoppage-time strike from Youri Tielemans.

Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke, Anderlecht youngster Yari Verschaeren and Atlanta-based Timothy Castagne all got on the score sheet after the break to complete the 9-0 trashing. On 21 points and with a perfect record, the Belgians’ ticket for next year’s European Championship is now assured. At Euro 2016 in France, Belgium were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Wales.

Russia sit in second on 18 points after comprehensively beating Scotland 4-0 in Moscow.  The Scots’ miserable run in Group I means they will have to secure a berth at the finals via the play-offs. Russia require one more win to grab the second ticket from the group. They travel to Cyprus on Sunday.

In Rotterdam, Northern Ireland pushed the Netherlands all the way after taking a 75th-minute lead through Josh Magennis’s header, but five minutes later Memphis Depay equalised before the hosts secured the three points through Luuk de Jong’s angled goal and a second strike from the Depay.

The Dutch move top of the group with the 3-1 victory ahead of Germany and Northern Ireland on goal difference. The Netherlands and Germany both have a game in hand over Northern Ireland who now face an uphill struggle to qualify for next year’s tournament. They will host the Netherlands in Belfast before traveling to Germany.

In Slovakia, Wales kept their Euro 2020 hopes alive with a 1-1 draw in Group E. Wigan’s Kieffer Moore headed the visitors in front before Juraj Kucka volleyed home the equalizer. Wales stay fourth in the group behind Hungary who lost 3-0 to group leaders Croatia. The Croats have thirteen points with Slovakia in second place on 10 points.

Elsewhere, Austria defeated Israel 3-1 to move into second spot in Group G on 13 points behind leaders Poland who defeated Latvia 3-0.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1573785962labto1573785962ofdlr1573785962owedi1573785962sni@o1573785962fni1573785962