Serbia qualify for Euro 2024 with 2-2 draw over Bulgaria

Sports |  IANS  | Published :

Leskovac (Serbia), Nov 20 (IANS) Serbia ended their 24-year wait to qualify for the UEFA European Championship after drawing 2-2 with Bulgaria to book their ticket to EURO 2024, on a night when Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku established a new European Qualifiers goalscoring record.

Serbia secured the point they needed to qualify for their first EURO finals since 2000. Milos Veljkovic put the hosts ahead in the first half, nodding in from close range after Nemanja Gudelj's header had struck the crossbar.

The visitors improved after the restart and restored parity courtesy of Georgi Rusev's crisp low drive, before Kiril Despodov completed the turnaround following a well-worked counterattack.

Dragan Stojkovic's side levelled with eight minutes remaining, Srdan Babic heading home a Dusan Tadic corner to deny Bulgaria their first win in Group G.

In other match, Romelu Lukaku's four-goal haul in the space of 21 first-half minutes helped Belgium clinch top spot in Group F against ten-man Azerbaijan.

The Red Devils captain got the breakthrough 17 minutes in, with a powerful header from Jérémy Doku's pinpoint delivery. Visiting midfielder Eddy was dismissed for a second booking shortly afterwards and Lukaku doubled the advantage moments later, before nodding in Wout Faes' cross to complete his hat-trick and grabbing a fourth eight minutes before half-time.

Leandro Trossard added a fifth late on, sweeping home Doku's cutback.

Lukaku's four goals took him to 14 for this EURO qualifying campaign, surpassing the record tally for EURO preliminaries set by Northern Ireland's David Healy (2008) and Poland's Robert Lewandowski (2016).

Elsewhere, skipper Dominik Szoboszlai's quick-fire double, including a fine individual effort, sparked the comeback as Hungary secured top spot in Group G. Slobodan Rubezic's close-range header put Montenegro ahead against the run of play as they chased the win they needed to stand any chance of qualifying.

Szoboszlai then levelled after the interval with a crisp finish following a mazy run, and he added a second just moments later after combining with Martin Adam. Adam Nagy's half-volley in added time put the gloss on a stylish second-half showing.

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