BRUSSELS: Romelu Lukaku scored four goals in 20 first-half minutes as brilliant Belgium cruised to an emphatic 5-0 victory over 10-man Azerbaijan in a Euro 2024 Group F qualifier in Brussels.

Lukaku put on a magnificent display of clinical finishing as he took his tally in the pool to 14 in eight games as already qualified Belgium earned top spot in the group. Azerbaijan finished in fourth with seven points from their eight games.

The home side were 4-0 up inside 37 minutes as they profited from an early red card for Azerbaijan’s Eddy Israfilov who was sent off for a second booking after a wild lunge on Lukaku.

Leandro Trossard scored a late fifth goal, but Belgium’s effort was spearheaded by their captain Lukaku, who took his tally of international goals to 83 in 113 appearances before he was substituted at halftime.

The victory extends Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco’s unbeaten run at the start of his reign to 10 games, winning eight of those.

After a poor World Cup in Qatar, the confidence has returned for the team despite the absence of several regulars, not least the injured Kevin De Bruyne.

Lukaku, 30, now has 83 goals in 113 Belgium games, making him the seventh-highest scorer in men’s international football history.

This was the Belgium captain’s first international quadruple, having scored four once before in his club career in Everton’s 6-3 Premier League win over Bournemouth in February 2017.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo (128, Portugal), Ali Daei (109, Iran), Lionel Messi (106, Argentina), Sunil Chhetri (93, India), Mokhtar Dahari (89, Malaysia) and Ferenc Puskas (84, Hungary) have scored more than Lukaku in international football.

His 14 qualifying goals put him far clear of closest challengers Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe, who have scored 10 and nine respectively in this campaign.

Fourteen goals is a record for a European Championship qualifying campaign – beating the 13 of Northern Ireland’s David Healy in 2008 and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski in 2016.

Sweden, whose qualification hopes were already over, beat Estonia 2-0 in Stockholm in the group’s other fixture.

Perfect Portugal

Portugal beat Iceland 2-0 at home to finish their Euro qualifying campaign with a perfect record of 10 straight wins in Group J.

Portugal finished with 30 points, eight points ahead of Slovakia, who also qualified for next year’s finals in Germany.

Bruno Fernandes scored the first goal of the night for the hosts eight minutes before the break, with a well-placed low shot from the edge of the box.

Portugal doubled their lead in the 66th minute when Ricardo Horta slotted home a loose ball after Cristiano Ronaldo’s initial effort was stopped. Iceland finished fourth in the table with 10 points.