Lukaku hat-trick overshadows Ibrahimovic return as Belgium beat Sweden 3-0

March 25, 2023 7:48 am

[Source: Reuters Sports]

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made a much-anticipated return to international football but it was Romelu Lukaku who scored a hat-trick as Belgium secured a 3-0 win over Sweden in their opening Group F European Championship qualifiers.

Lukaku broke the deadlock in the 35th minute, out-jumping Hjalmar Ekdal to head home a cross from the left from Dodi Lukebakio, who had tormented the Swedish defence from the kickoff.

The Belgian striker took advantage of more slack Swedish marking to double his side’s advantage early in the second half as Lukebakio picked him out again with a low cross which he turned in from close range.

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The introduction of the 41-year-old Ibrahimovic in the 73rd minute after a long absence due to injury prompted an ear-splitting roar from the crowd, but it made little difference as Lukaku slotted home his third in the 83rd minute to ensure the win in new coach Domenico Tedesco’s first game in charge.