Romelu Lukaku on Wednesday helped fire Belgium into the UEFA Nations League finals by scoring twice in a 4-2 win over Denmark, while Italy also secured a place in the last four with victory away to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The world’s No. 1-ranked side, Belgium, only required a draw from their last League A, Group 2 game at home to Denmark behind closed doors in Leuven and took an early lead through Youri Tielemans.
Jonas Wind equalized for Denmark, but Lukaku got a second-half double and Kevin de Bruyne made sure of the victory for Roberto Martinez’s side after Thibaut Courtois allowed a Nacer Chadli back-pass to squirm under his leg and in for an own-goal.
Italy secured first place in Group 1 with a 2-0 triumph in Sarajevo thanks to a goal in each half from Torino’s Andrea Belotti and Domenico Berardi of US Sassuolo.
That ensured they finished a point ahead of the Netherlands, who came from behind to beat Poland 2-1 away with captain Georginio Wijnaldum scoring the winner after Memphis Depay’s penalty canceled out Kamil Jozwiak’s opener.
Italy and Belgium join Spain and World Cup holders France in a final tournament, which is expected to be held in Italy in October next year.
Before the finals, European national teams would start their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in March, and then the delayed Euro 2020 is set to go ahead in June and July next year.
England have more than one eye on that tournament, with the semi-finals and final scheduled for Wembley, and Gareth Southgate’s team rounded out their Nations League campaign with a 4-0 win over Iceland.
Declan Rice and Mason Mount scored in the first half and Manchester City’s Phil Foden got his first international goals with a late brace as England had three players aged 21 or younger score in the same match for the first time since 1883.
“It was a very difficult game. All the players were hearing messages that this is meaningless and there was nothing to play for, but they did play for it,” Southgate told Sky Sports.
Birkir Mar Saevarsson was sent off for Iceland, who, like Bosnia, are relegated and are to compete in League B in the next edition.
Wales won promotion to League A with a 3-1 win over 10-man Finland in Cardiff that allowed them to top Group B4.
Despite manager Ryan Giggs being missing after his arrest on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend, Wales came good with goals from Harry Wilson, Daniel James and Kieffer Moore.
Teemu Pukki netted for Finland, who had leftback Jere Uronen sent off after just 12 minutes.
Winning their group also improves Wales’ chances of securing a place in the 2022 World Cup qualifying playoffs, as the two best group winners in the Nations League are guaranteed playoff places if they do not make it through the usual route.
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