Belgium record-breaker Romelu Lukaku scores four and moves up to seventh on all-time list

Striker's goals all come in 20 first-half minutes against Azerbaijan, taking his international tally to 83

Powered by automated translation

Romelu Lukaku scored four goals in 20 first-half minutes as Belgium thrashed 10-man Azerbaijan 5-0 in Sunday's World Cup qualifier.

The 30-year-old striker – currently on loan at Serie A side Roma from Premier League Chelsea – has now scored 83 goals in 113 games for Belgium, moving him to joint seventh on the all-time men's international goalscoring chart.

Lukaku has moved above Poland's Robert Lewandowski (81 in 145 games) and is level with UAE striker Ali Mabkhout who has played one game less than the Belgian hitman.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo (128 goals in 205 games for Portugal), Ali Daei (108 in 148, Iran), Lionel Messi (106 in 179, Argentina), Sunil Chhetri (93 in 144, India), Mokhtar Dahari (89 in 142, Malaysia) and Ferenc Puskas (84 in 85, Hungary) have scored more.

“The whole team gave a great performance today and we showed our qualities,” said the former Manchester United and Inter Milan attacker. “It feels very good when you score four goals.”

Such was Belgium's dominance, manager Domenico Tedesco was able to bring off Lukaku at the break. “I’ve been playing a lot for Roma in recent weeks and that is why the coach and I decided for me to come off at half-time,” he added.

Lukaku opened the scoring in Brussels on Sunday when he headed home a cross from Manchester City winger Jeremy Doku in the 17th minute.

Azerbaijan's night was made far more problematic soon after when midfielder Eddy Pascual picked up his second yellow card in just four minutes leaving his side a man down.

It was 2-0 in the 26th minute when Lukaku smashed home a knock down by Fulham full-back Timothy Castagne and then completed his hat-trick on the half-hour mark by heading home a cross from Leicester City defender Wout Faes.

In the 37th minute Lukakau grabbed his fourth after easily beating the keeper following a ball from Nottingham Forest midfielder Orel Mangala.

“It was an outstanding performance by Romelu,” said Tedesco, whose unbeaten run at the start of his reign now stands at 10 games, with eight of those ending in wins. “He scored with every shot. You can’t do better.”

Arsenal's Leandro Trossard completed Belgium's scoring in the 90th minute after a pass from Doku, meaning all five goals had been supplied by English-based players.

But the day was clearly Lukaku's who made it 14 goals in eight qualifiers for the Red Devils who had already booked their place in next summer's Euro 2024 but leapfrogged Austria to finish top of Group F.

Lukaku has now scored the most goals in a European qualifying campaign, beating the 13 scored by Poland’s Robert Lewandowski (in Euro 2016 qualifying) and Northern Ireland’s David Healy (Euro 2008).

His closest rivals in this campaign are Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo with 10 goals and Kylian Mbappe of France who has nine.

Lukaku has also enjoyed a fine start to the season for Jose Mourinho's Roma scoring nine times in 14 games.

Updated: November 21, 2023, 6:08 AM