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Lukaku goes past 50 goals as Belgium qualify for Euro 2020

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Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku scored twice in Belgium's victory.

Paris: Belgium became the first team to qualify for the 2020 European Championship finals as Romelu Lukaku scored twice in a 9-0 thrashing of San Marino in Brussels, while the Netherlands needed a late comeback to beat Northern Ireland.

Lukaku took his record Belgium international tally past 50 goals as Roberto Martinez’s Group I leaders opened up an unassailable 11-point lead over third-placed Cyprus with three games remaining.

The world-number-one ranked side booked their spot at next year’s tournament, which will be played at 12 venues across Europe, after seven straight qualifying wins.

Russia appear set to take the second automatic slot from the group, after a 4-0 win over Scotland moved them eight points ahead of Cyprus.

The first breakthrough arrived when Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans fed Lukaku, who fired home his landmark goal in the 28th minute.

The floodgates then opened, as Nacer Chadli slotted into the corner from the edge of the area three minutes later, and visiting defender Cristian Brolli scored a comical own goal 10 minutes before the interval.

Lukaku wasted little time in making it 51 Belgium goals, before Toby Alderweireld and Tielemans made it six before half-time.

memphis depay

In the Euro qualifiers Memphis Depay has six goals and six assists in five games for the Netherlands.

Substitute Christian Benteke drilled in number seven with 11 minutes remaining, 18-year-old Yari Verschaeren scored his first international goal from the penalty spot, and Atalanta defender Timothy Castagne completed the rout in the 90th minute.

Dutch heartbreak for Northern Ireland

Memphis Depay’s late brace rescued the Netherlands a 3-1 win over Northern Ireland which sent Ronald Koeman’s men top of Group C.

Croatia took control of Group E by beating Hungary 3-0 in Split, while Slovakia jumped into second despite being held to a 1-1 home draw by Wales.

Luka Modric’s fifth-minute strike and two goals for Bruno Petkovic sent last year’s World Cup runners-up Croatia four points clear of third-placed Hungary.

Slovakia fell behind in the first half when former lifeguard Kieffer Moore scored on his international competitive debut for Wales, but secured a draw thanks to Juraj Kucka’s brilliant 53rd-minute volley.

Elsewhere, Robert Lewandowski netted a hat-trick, taking his tally this season to 18 goals for club and country, as Poland won 3-0 at Latvia to strengthen their position at the top of Group G.

They sit three points clear of closest challengers Austria, who saw off Israel 3-1.

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