(Football news) Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his much-anticipated return to international football but it was overshadowed by Romelu Lukaku’s hat trick as Belgium secured a comfortable 3-0 win over Sweden in their opening Group F Euro qualifiers. The win at the Friends Arena also gave new Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco a perfect start as his side bounced back from a disappointing group-stage exit at the Qatar World Cup as Janne Andersson’s Sweden posed a little threat to their squad.
Dejan Kulusevski thought that he had scored for his home side in the 15th minute as he cut in from the right and took a low shot through the legs of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois but there was Wout Faes to stop the ball crossing the line. Lukaku broke the deadlock in the 35th minute when he jumped over Hjalmar Ekdal to head a perfect cross from Dodi Lukebakio, who was tormenting the Sweden defence all night. The Belgium striker got his second goal as he took advantage of more slack marking to double his teams advantage early in the second half as Lukebakio again picked him with a low cross which he tapped in from close range.
The 41-year-old Ibrahimovic was introduced in the 73rd minute after a long absence due to an ACL injury as it prompted a loud reception from the crowd as the AC Milan striker became the second-oldest player to play in a Euro qualifier. Ibra’s first touch came seven minutes later as he chested the ball down in the box but he couldn’t take a shot because he lost his footing on the notoriously poor pitch at Sweden’s national arena. Three minutes later the Inter Milan striker killed the game off as the Swedish defence suffered yet another collapse, leaving him with another easy tap-in to complete one of the easiest hat tricks he has scored in his career.