Belgium's Romelu Lukaku scores against Denmark during their Nations League match in Leuven on Wednesday. AFP
Gulf Today Report
Romelu Lukaku extended his record scoring form and underlined his credentials as Belgium’s key attacker with a second-half double to help his team book their place in next year’s Nations League finals with a 4-2 home victory over Denmark on Wednesday, while unbeaten Italy also booked their last four berth with win over Bosnia.
Belgium, who finished five points clear at the top of League A Group 2, will meet world champions France and former World Cup winners Italy and Spain in the final four next October.
England salvaged their pride with a 4-0 demolition of 10-man Iceland in a dead rubber with Declan Rice and Mason Mount scoring in the first half and a late brace by Phil Foden to add to their team’s tally.
Also securing promotion to the top tier were Austria, Wales and Hungary from their respective groups.
The world's number one-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 equalised for Denmark, but Lukaku scored double in the second-half 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 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 cancelled 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 will start their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in March and then the delayed Euro 2020 is set to go ahead next June and July.
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.
"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 will compete in League B in the next edition.
Wales move up, Scotland miss out
Wales won promotion to League A with a 3-1 win over 10-man Finland in Cardiff that allowed them to top Group B4. Wales came good with goals from Harry Wilson, Daniel James and Kieffer Moore.
Teemu Pukki netted for Finland, who had left-back 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 play-offs, as the two best group winners in the Nations League are guaranteed play-off places if they don't make it via the usual route.
While Wales go up, Scotland missed out on promotion from League B, Group 2 after losing 1-0 in Israel, their second consecutive loss since clinching qualification for Euro 2020.
England and Portugal both scored five goals while France scored three as they overcame lowly-ranked Kosovo, Andorra and Lithuania in Euro 2020 qualifying on Tuesday.
France will be counting on the dynamic form of star scrum-half Antoine Dupont to energise their Six Nations campaign starting on Saturday against Italy in Rome. The 24-year-old, the Six Nations player of the tournament last year, has been on an upward
World champions France produced a fitting inaugural match in Albania’s newly-built Arena Kombetare stadium after goals from Corentin Tolisso and Antoine Griezmann
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