Lukaku proves Chelsea wrong AGAIN with four-goal Belgium haul
Domenico Tedesco’s side had already qualified for next year’s tournament, which will take place in Germany, but still put Azerbaijan to the sword in emphatic fashion to ensure they topped Group F ahead of Austria.
Lukaku was taken off at half-time, but had already managed to net four goals as Belgium ran riot during the opening stages of the match.
His first was a neat, close-range header from a Jeremy Doku cross after just 17 minutes, before the 30-year-old was on the receiving end of a challenge that saw Azerbaijan midfielder Eddy Pascual sent off in the 24th minute.
Lukaku added his second goal two minutes later with a right-footed finish after a knockdown from Timothy Castagne, before completing his hat-trick with a second header of the night.
His evening’s work was completed when he powered into the box after an Orel Mangala through-ball and finished with his weaker right boot before uttering the words: “I’m him” to the TV cameras.
Romelu Lukaku for club and country this season 🔥 pic.twitter.com/eHbInqn6CX
— Football Transfers (@Transfersdotcom) November 19, 2023
Should Chelsea have kept Lukaku this summer?
Lukaku, who is his country’s all-time record goal-scorer, has shone since reuniting with Jose Mourinho in Italy, while the Blues have mostly struggled to find the back of the net under Mauricio Pochettino.
Goals have picked up in recent weeks in west London - with the Blues finding the back of the net eight times against Tottenham and Manchester City - and Nicolas Jackson’s finishing has been questioned.
The former Villarreal forward has notched six Premier League goals this term (the same as Chelsea’s top scorer Kai Havertz scored last year), but has missed several guilt-edged chances, while Lukaku has been clinical in Serie A.
Jackson is still only 22 years old, however, and is a very raw prospect, while Lukaku would’ve been an elder statesman if he had remained at Stamford Bridge this summer.
The Blues have picked up the pace in recent weeks and seem to have found their groove under Pochettino, but having a proven goal-scorer like Lukaku may have been beneficial to ease the pressure and load on Jackson.
The Senegal international is extremely talented, but he has perhaps felt the weight of being Chelsea’s main striker and that hasn’t helped his adaptation to life in England.
Armando Broja is also an option - and a very talented one at that - but his minutes need to be managed given his injury record over the past 12 months.
As a result, keeping Lukaku rather than loaning him out again may have been a smart option, especially considering he is proving to be a consistently reliable goal-scorer for both Roma and Belgium in 2023-24.