LEUVEN: The prolific Romelu Lukaku underlined his status as Belgium’s key attacker with two goals to help his team book their place in next year’s Nations League finals with a 4-2 home victory over Denmark.
Lukaku extended his record scoring form for his country with a second-half double as Youri Tielemans and Kevin De Bruyne also netted for Belgium.
Denmark scored through Jonas Wind after 17 minutes, heading home from close range, and Belgium gifted them a second with a comical own goal credited to Nacer Chadli four minutes from time.
Belgium finished five points clear at the top of League A Group 2 and will meet world champions France and former World Cup winners Italy and Spain in the final four next October.
Yet Wind’s equaliser swung the first-half momentum to Denmark, who then created further chances.
Belgium got back on top, however, when Tielemans turned provider for Lukaku’s first goal in the 56th minute with a quickly-taken free kick that caught out the Danish defence.
Lukaku then scored his 57th international goal with a strong header as he got goalside of Danish captain Simon Kjaer to finish off a cross from Thorgan Hazard in the 70th minute.
The deficit was reduced when Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois let a back pass from Chadli slip under his foot and into the net. Denmark, however, barely had time to register their good fortune before De Bruyne struck Belgium’s fourth.
The other group game saw England beat 10-men Iceland easily by 4-0 at Wembley.
Phil Foden netted twice as England’s new generation staked their claim for a place at next summer’s European Championship and brought a challenging year to a convincing end against Iceland.
From Harry Maguire’s Greek court case and the high-profile bubble breach by Mason Greenwood and Foden, to injury headaches, empty stands and his own bout of Covid-19, this has been a tough autumn for Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.
But a strange, testing and truncated international year came to a comfortable conclusion at Wembley, where Foden netted his first England goals after efforts from Declan Rice and Mason Mount to seal a 4-0 win.
Italy followed Belgium into the last four and extended their unbeaten run to 22 games with a 2-0 win away to Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Andrea Belotti broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute and Domenico Berardi added the second with a magnificent volley midway through the second half as Italy topped Group A1 with 12 points from six games.
Italy were again missing coach Roberto Mancini after he tested positive for COVID-19 as well as a number of key players including injured defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, and forward Ciro Immobile over a COVID-19 related issue.
Elsewhere Wales secured promotion to the top tier of the Nations League with a 3-1 win over 10-man Finland in Cardiff.
Harry Wilson, Daniel James and Kieffer Moore were on target as Wales moved up to League A and virtually guaranteed themselves a 2022 World Cup play-off spot.
Teemu Pukki had halved the deficit to set up an anxious half-hour for the Dragons, but Moore’s header six minutes from time eased Welsh nerves.
Finland needed to win to deprive Wales of top spot in Group B4, but they were forced to play with 10 men for 78 minutes after Jere Uronen wa sent off for bringing down Wilson with the forward through on goal.
Scotland missed out on Nations League promotion after going down to a 1-0 defeat in Israel.
Manor Solomon scored on the counter-attack a minute before half-time to allow the Czech Republic to leapfrog Scotland and take top spot in Group B2 following their 2-0 win over Slovakia.