Belgium Secure Euro 2020 Place After 9-0 San Marino Rout, Romelu Lukaku Brace

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistOctober 10, 2019

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - JUNE 11: Romelu Lukaku of Belgium celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group I qualifying match between Belgium and Scotland at King Baudouin Stadium on June 11, 2019 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Frank Abbeloos/Isosport/MB Media/Getty Images)
MB Media/Getty Images

Romelu Lukaku scored a first-half brace as Belgium obliterated San Marino 9-0 and secured their place at UEFA Euro 2020 in winning a seventh match from seven in Group I qualifying.

Lukaku's goals were his 50th and 51st for the Red Devils, who have guaranteed they'll finish among the top two in their pool with three games to spare:

B/R Football @brfootball

50 goals for Belgium 🔥 @RomeluLukaku9 https://t.co/weXTuINos1

Nacer Chadli, Toby Alderweireld and Youri Tielemans each scored—along with a San Marino own goal—to establish a 6-0 lead in favour of the hosts at half-time. 

Christian Benteke came off the bench to score his first international goal in two-and-a-half years. Youngster Yuri Verschaeren also came off the bench, winning and converting a penalty for his maiden international goal, before Timothy Castagne completed the rout.

The visitors remain bottom of Group I and have yet to clinch a point in qualifying—or score a goal—after seven matches.

Group I contenders Russia remain three points behind Belgium in second place after they defeated Scotland 4-0.

Lukaku had the best share of scoring chances early on, bundling a headed opportunity over the crossbar.

But the Inter Milan striker got his reward after 28 minutes and put Belgium ahead, firing low and inside Simone Benedettini's near post after Tielemans' pass slipped him in down the right, via Sky Sports (UK only):

Sky Sports Football @SkyFootball

Romelu Lukaku has scored his 5⃣0⃣th goal for Belgium 📺 Watch the #Euro2020 qualifier live now on Sky Sports red button https://t.co/q5pPYD5OM5

Sky Sports Statto noted the 26-year-old being the first Belgian to reach the milestone, not to mention the rate at which his scoring has increased as he's gained international experience:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

⚽️ 🇧🇪 Romelu Lukaku is the 1st player to score 50 goals for Belgium 23 goals in 1st 60 caps 27 goals in last 23 caps https://t.co/g1rSU7GcfR

Anderlecht winger Chadli hit San Marino while they still looked stunned by the breakthrough, with Lukaku this time teeing him up for a sweetly struck curler from the edge of the box.

Any chance of a comeback appeared to fade after Cristian Brolli's own goal to make it 3-0, again hitting the guests not long after they'd conceded. 

Eden Hazard assisted Lukaku's second, skipping a pass inside from the left before Inter's frontman swung a hopeful effort inside the far post via a fortunate deflection off Davide Simoncini.

Alderweireld also benefited from a deflection and made it 5-0 after his speculative long-range attempt bounced off Andrea Grandoni and skidded in.

Not content with a five-goal cushion at the halfway mark, Hazard bombarded down the right flank before cutting back for Tielemans to flash a superb finish inside the far post (UK only):

Sky Sports Football @SkyFootball

Hazard 👉 Tielemans Belgium lead San Marino 6-0 at HT 📺 Watch the #Euro2020 qualifier live now on Sky Sports red button https://t.co/Sza1icARqa

Dries Mertens almost threaded Lukaku through for a hat-trick strike early in the second period, with the Red Devils looking at ease in what appeared little more than a training exercise for the hosts.

Mertens almost found Belgium's seventh, thwacking the post with a cross-goal effort before Lukaku was denied at close range from the ensuing corner. The former made way for 18-year-old Verschaeren—making just his second international appearance—soon after.

San Marino gave a far sturdier account of themselves in the second half, albeit welcoming a torrent of Belgian pressure inside their own half. 

They kept the second period goalless for 34 minutes, but Crystal Palace striker Benteke eventually broke down the barriers once more with a slick long-range effort of his own. 

Verschaeren opened his international account from 12 yards after the Anderlecht midfielder was brought down in the box by Brolli. He then played a crucial role crossing in for Castagne's sealing strike.

Belgian football writer John Chapman picked out his highlights from the match, which included super-substitutes Benteke and Verschaeren:

John Chapman @BelgoFoot

The whole squad wanted double figures but it ends 9-0. Euro qualification. Good for Martinez and tonight for Chadli, Vanaken, Verschaeren, Lukaku and Benteke. #BELSMR

The hosts had almost 80 per cent of possession on the night and failed to concede a shot on target in the 90 minutes, per FlashScore.com.

Belgium have the prestigious honour of becoming the first UEFA nation to qualify for Euro 2020, taking a great burden off manager Roberto Martinez entering the final phases of their group campaign.


What's Next?

Belgium travel on Sunday to face Kazakhstan, who can no longer qualify finish among the top two in Group I following Russia's win over Scotland. San Marino are again on the road in their next fixture and face Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.