Lukaku scores hat-trick as Ibrahimovic returns


Romelu Lukaku of Belgium celebrates with teammate Arthur Theate of Belgium after scoring the team's first goal during the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying round group F match between Sweden and Belgium at Friends Arena on March 24, 2023 in Stockholm, Sweden.

Romelu Lukaku scored a hat-trick to lead Belgium to victory against Sweden in their Euro 2024 qualifier and upstage Zlatan Ibrahimovic on his international return.

Lukaku headed in a first-half opener before turning in from close range, and then slotted in late on.

Ibrahimovic, 41, came on in the 73rd minute to a standing ovation from the Swedish fans.

It was his first international appearance for almost a year.

At 41 years, five months and 21 days, Ibrahimovic had initially been hailed as breaking the the record, held by Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff since 1983, as the oldest man to play in a European Championship qualifier.

However, Gibraltar striker Lee Casciaro – who is four days older than Ibrahimovic – took the record in his team’s 3-0 home defeat to Greece in Group B on Friday.

Last weekend, Ibrahimovic became the oldest player to score a goal in Serie A history when the AC Milan striker converted a penalty against Udinese.

Ibrahimovic has said he wants to play at Euro 2024 in Germany next year when he will be 42, and would become the oldest player to ever participate in the tournament.

Lukaku’s treble – his first goals for his country since 2021 – gave Domenico Tedesco the perfect start as Belgium boss.

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