Romelu Lukaku scored four times in 20 first-half minutes as Belgium thrashed 10-man Azerbaijan 5-0 in Euro 2024 qualifying.

Lukaku headed the opener from Jeremy Doku’s cross before Eddy Pascual was shown a second yellow card for a foul on the Roma striker, who is on loan from Chelsea.

The 30-year-old completed his hat-trick by the half-hour mark and grabbed his fourth after 37 minutes before being substituted at half-time. Arsenal forward Leandro Trossard completed the rout late on.

Lukaku’s total of 14 goals is a record for a European Championship qualifying campaign, beating the mark of 13 set by Northern Ireland’s David Healy in 2008 and equalled by Poland’s Robert Lewandowski in 2016.

Belgium had already booked their place at next year’s tournament and the win saw them finish top of Group F ahead of Austria.

Sweden, who could not qualify, beat Estonia 2-0 in the group’s other fixture.

Serbia qualified for Euro 2024 with a 2-2 draw with Bulgaria in Group G, where group winners Hungary beat Montenegro 3-1 thanks to a brace from Liverpool midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai.

Serbia only needed a point or for Montenegro not to beat Hungary to secure their berth in Germany, but that looked a distinct possibility when they trailed 2-1 and Montenegro led 1-0 in Budapest.

However, Serbia’s Srdan Babic equalised in the 82nd minute and Szoboszlai scored twice in the space of two minutes in the second half to turn Hungary’s game around.

Scotland concluded their successful campaign with an action-packed 3-3 draw with Norway at Hampden Park.

Steve Clarke’s men twice came from behind before Stuart Armstrong gave the home side the lead just before the hour mark, but Norway substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi levelled in the 86th minute.

Group A winners Spain beat Georgia 3-1 in Valladolid.

Portugal ended their qualifying campaign with a 10th straight win as goals from Bruno Fernandes and Ricardo Horta gave them a 2-0 victory over Iceland.

Group J runners-up Slovakia enjoyed a 2-1 win over 10-man Bosnia and Herzegovina, who will join Luxembourg in the play-offs.

What the papers say

Tammy Abraham, 26, could make a return to Chelsea as Roma look to keep hold of Romelu Lukaku. The Daily Mirror reports the Italian club could offer the England striker in a swap deal for Lukaku, 30, who is currently on loan.

Kalvin Phillips is available for a move from Manchester City – at a price. According to the Daily Mirror, City want £50million for the England midfielder, 27, having paid £42m in 2022.

Arsenal have become the latest team to weigh up a move for Crystal Palace’s England defender Marc Guehi, reports The Sun. Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea have already been linked to the 23-year-old.

Mikel Arteta is also keen on strengthening his midfield options with Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi, 24, in his sights according to the Daily Mirror. Real Madrid’s French international Aurelien Tchouameni, 23, is another on the Gunners’ radar.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Victor Osimhen: The Daily Mirror reports the 24-year-old Nigerian has played down talk of him leaving NApoli amid interest from Liverpool.

Jesse Lingard: The former England midfielder is still searching for a new club after Al-Ettifaq had no room in their squad, reports the Daily Star.

Kylian Mbappe scored twice, including a stunning strike from just outside the box, as France beat the Netherlands 2-0 in Amsterdam to secure Euro 2024 qualification.

After putting Les Bleus ahead with a seventh-minute finish, Mbappe added a breathtaking second eight minutes into the second half, exchanging passes with Adrien Rabiot and sending a curling shot over Bart Verbruggen and into the top corner.

Quilindschy Hartman reduced the deficit with seven minutes of normal time remaining.

The result extended France’s perfect record in Group B to a sixth victory as they rubber-stamped their place in next summer’s finals in Germany with two fixtures to spare.

Their opponents dropped from second to third, replaced by Greece – who won 2-0 against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

Georgios Giakoumakis and Georgios Masouras scored in the first half as Ireland’s chances of automatic qualification officially came to an end.

Greece are now three points clear of the Netherlands, who have a game in hand.

In Group F, Belgium sealed progress to the finals with a 3-2 win away against second-placed Austria.

The visitors appeared to be cruising after Dodi Lukebakio’s double and a Romelu Lukaku effort had them three goals up before the hour mark.

Things then became less comfortable as Konrad Laimer pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute, Belgium were reduced to 10 men by a red card for Amadou Onana six minutes later, and Marcel Sabitzer scored an 84th-minute penalty – but Domenico Tedesco’s side managed to see out the win.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan registered their first win in the group as they beat Estonia 2-0 in Tallinn.

Portugal also completed the job of qualification via a 3-2 victory as they defeated Slovakia in Porto, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice.

Goncalo Ramos and a Ronaldo penalty had the hosts two goals up at half-time, and after David Hancko’s reply, Ronaldo made it 3-1 in the 72nd minute with his 125th international goal.

Stanislav Lobotka netted a second for Slovakia, who are second behind Portugal in Group J.

Friday’s other matches in the pool saw Iceland and Luxembourg draw 1-1 in Reykjavik and Bosnia and Herzegovina win 2-0 in Liechtenstein.

Romelu Lukaku has joined Roma on a season-long loan from Chelsea, ending the long-running stand-off between player and club.

The PA news agency understands the Serie A club will pay an £8million fee with no obligation to buy while also taking on the Belgium striker’s wages, which will be reduced from the £325,000-a-week he earned at Stamford Bridge.

Blues manager Mauricio Pochettino hinted last week that there could still be a place for the 30-year-old in his plans if a deal could not be agreed before Friday’s transfer deadline.

However, PA understands that Roma owner Dan Friedkin’s prioritising of Lukaku’s signing as a critical part of the club’s hopes to return to the Champions League for the first time since 2019 prompted them to ensure a deal was done.

Lukaku has not played for Chelsea, whom he joined for £97.5m from Inter Milan two summers ago, since May 2022 and spent last season on loan back at Inter, helping them reach the Champions League final.

The club were keen to re-sign him this summer but he was reportedly unhappy after being left out of Simone Inzaghi’s starting line-up for the final against Manchester City in Istanbul, which Inter lost 1-0 after Lukaku came on and missed a late opportunity to level the game.

Juventus had also been keen to take him on loan earlier in the summer but it is understood Chelsea had been holding out for a permanent sale, albeit one that would recoup a significant proportion of the fee they paid in 2021.

Lukaku, who first played for Chelsea between 2011 and 2014 but made only 15 appearances between loan spells at West Brom and Everton before being sold to the Goodison Park outfit, will link up with Jose Mourinho, with whom he worked during his time at Manchester United.

Chelsea have agreed a season-long loan deal with Roma for Romelu Lukaku, the PA news agency understands.

The Serie A side will pay £8million to take the wantaway striker for a year as a solution to the stand-off between player and club appears finally to be in sight.

PA understands that there is no obligation for the club to make the deal permanent.

The uncertainty surrounding Lukaku, who joined Chelsea for £97.5m in 2021 but scored only eight Premier League goals in 26 games before being loaned out to Inter Milan last season, has hung over the early weeks of Mauricio Pochettino’s time in charge.

The manager hinted last week that he would be willing to consider reintegrating the Belgium international into his squad if no deal for him to leave could be reached before Friday’s transfer deadline.

But that impasse was averted on Monday night after a deal was struck for the 30-year-old, who spent three years on Chelsea’s books between 2011-14 but made just 10 appearances between loan spells at West Brom and Everton, to join up with ex-Blues boss Jose Mourinho in the Italian capital.

Everton signed Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea for a club record £28million on this day in 2014.

The move came after a successful loan spell at Goodison Park the previous season in which the forward scored 16 goals in 33 appearances and helped the club finish fifth in the Premier League.

The then 21-year-old, who had also spent an impressive year on loan at West Brom since joining Chelsea from Anderlecht for £18million in 2011, signed a five-year contract with the Toffees.

“I decided very quickly I wanted to come back here because it was a good step for me,” said Lukaku. “This is the place I belong.

“I’m 21, I need to be playing in a good team. I needed to be in a place that felt right.”

The fee paid by Everton shattered their previous club record of £15million for Marouane Fellaini in 2008.

Manager Roberto Martinez said: “It is not just one of those important days for the season, but it is a very significant day in the history of our football club.

“It is fair to say Romelu was our number one target to bring in and the pursuit was relentless, but it had to be a record transfer and it is worth every single penny and effort we put behind it.”

Lukaku spent a further three years with Everton, taking his overall tally across two spells at the club to 87 goals in 166 appearances, before joining Manchester United for £75million. He later moved to Inter Milan and then back to Chelsea.

He is now back with the Blues after spending last season on loan at Inter.

Inter secured Champions League qualification in their penultimate game of the Serie A season, dealing a fatal blow to Atalanta's own top-four hopes with a 3-2 win at San Siro.

The Nerazzurri – finalists in Europe's premier club competition this term – stormed into a two-goal lead within just two minutes and 49 seconds after Romelu Lukaku and Nicolo Barella were on target. 

Atalanta needed a result to keep their slim hopes of a top-four finish alive, and they were handed a lifeline by Mario Pasalic before the interval on Saturday.

Yet Inter added a deserved third through Lautaro Martinez after the break, proving Andre Onana's late own goal a mere Atalanta consolation, as the Nerazzurri moved eight points clear of their fifth-placed visitors.

Lukaku only needed 39 seconds to put Inter ahead, timing his run from Martinez's throughball before rounding Marco Sportiello and tapping into an empty net.

Atalanta found themselves further behind by the three-minute mark, Barella hammering a rebound into the roof of the net after Sportiello twice saved from Federico Dimarco.

Hakan Calhanoglu was denied a third by the offside flag when he netted with a ferocious volley, before Andre Onana was forced into action by Rasmus Hojlund and Teun Koopmeiners.

Atalanta halved the arrears nine minutes before half-time, Pasalic hooking a finish beyond Onana following a goalmouth scramble.

Calhanoglu drew a flying save from Sportiello as Atalanta wilted after the interval, Inter managing the game in typically assured fashion.

Martinez stretched Inter's lead further when Marcelo Brozovic teed up a tap-in 13 minutes from time, before Luis Muriel's powerful long-range strike deflected in off the unfortunate Onana as the Nerazzurri just held on for victory.

Inter's great week continued as Romelu Lukaku scored a brilliant double in a 4-2 win over Sassuolo at San Siro on Saturday.

With one foot in the Champions League final after Wednesday's 2-0 first-leg victory over city rivals Milan, Inter took advantage of the Rossoneri losing at Spezia to put even more space between the two sides in Serie A.

Lukaku put the hosts ahead when he arrowed in from distance before Ruan put through his own net, while Lautaro Martinez scored via a deflection as the Nerazzurri earned a seventh straight win in all competitions.

Matheus Henrique and Davide Frattesi pulled goals back for the mid-table visitors, but Lukaku smashed in a fourth for Simone Inzaghi's men late on as they move up to third and crucially five points above Milan in fifth, putting them in the driver's seat to seal Champions League qualification with three games to play.

A VAR review came to Inter's rescue early on, ruling Armand Lauriente offside after his cross was poked home at the back post by Domenico Berardi.

The hosts had a goal of their own ruled out minutes later, Andrea Consigli unable to keep out Joaquin Correa's effort only for the offside flag to curtail the celebrations.

Henrique and Frattesi spurned golden opportunities to put the visitors ahead, and they were made to pay for those misses as Lukaku's long-range drive flew into the top corner four minutes before half-time.

Martinez came on at the break as Inter pressed to double their lead, and they would do exactly that when Ruan sliced Raoul Bellanova's cross-shot into his own net.

The hosts received another huge slice of luck to make it 3-0 before the hour mark, Martinez seeing his effort hit the beleaguered Ruan and completely wrong-foot Consigli before nestling in.

Sassuolo narrowed the deficit through late headers by Henrique and Frattesi but Lukaku would seal the win when he coolly fired past Consigli from Marcelo Brozovic's pass to make the points safe.

Inter kept themselves on course for a top-four finish in Serie A after they defeated Roma 2-0 in an ill-tempered clash on Saturday.

The Nerazzurri seized a first-half lead through Federico Dimarco's close-range finish before Romelu Lukaku's breakaway strike 16 minutes from time sealed the three points at Stadio Olimpico.

Ahead of a Champions League semi-final with arch-rivals Milan on Wednesday, Simone Inzaghi's team returned to the top four and boosted their hopes of qualifying for next season's competition.

For Jose Mourinho's Giallorossi however, defeat leaves them five points off the top four with just four games left to play, leaving them with an uphill battle in hand.

Several stoppages due to injuries meant chances were at a relative premium during a closely fought opening quarter.

Lukaku required treatment in the six-yard area shortly after Lorenzo Pellegrini went close, while Nicola Zalewski came off worse after taking a fast ball to the face.

But Inter took the lead just after the half-hour mark when Dimarco flicked a Denzel Dumfries ball into the net, via a handy deflection off Bryan Cristante.

Roma fought back and were incensed when Matteo Darmian escaped punishment for a handball in the box shortly before the hour mark, with tempers continuing to boil over.

Even so, the hosts still looked in the game, until a defensive misread from Roger Ibanez allowed their opponents to make the most of a long ball downfield.

Lautaro Martinez pounced on the loose ball, and played in Lukaku for a composed finish, ultimately sealing victory for Inter with just over a quarter of an hour to go.

Simone Inzaghi revelled in "one of the best games" of his Inter tenure after the Nerazzurri roared back from a goal down to beat Lazio in an absorbing contest at San Siro.

Inzaghi looked set to suffer defeat against his former club when Felipe Anderson fired the visitors ahead, but three goals in the final 13 minutes turned the game on its head.

Two one-on-one finishes from substitute Lautaro Martinez – coming either side of Robin Gosens' acrobatic strike – ensured Inter leapfrogged Milan and Roma to move into Serie A's top four.

Lazio's defeat had handed runaway leaders Napoli the opportunity to clinch their first Scudetto since the Diego Maradona era on Sunday, but Luciano Spalletti's men were made to wait after they could only draw 1-1 with Salernitana.

Inzaghi believed Inter's victory was richly deserved even after seeing them fall behind, telling Sky Sport in Italy: "This was one of the best games since I've been here.

"At the end of the first half, I told my players that they should continue to play like that. We were down but we had put in a great performance after a very busy Wednesday.

"Let's not forget that we were playing against the team second in the table. Today, I saw a really beautiful Inter team."

Martinez's brace – his first in Serie A since January – was accompanied by a pair of assists from fellow striker Romelu Lukaku, who has started to hit form following a frustrating start to his loan spell.

With a huge Champions League semi-final tie against Milan to come, Inzaghi is unable to split his four forwards, with Edin Dzeko and Joaquin Correa also competing for a starting spot.

Asked which duo were ahead in the battle to start, Inzaghi said: "Inter's four starters at the moment are Lautaro, Lukaku, Correa and Dzeko. 

"If you look at the playing time of the last few games, they've alternated and given each other great satisfaction. 

"Right now we saw Lautaro's two great goals. If we didn't have to play like we did before December, we would always have had Lautaro like this.

"I have high hopes because he's an extraordinary guy, with the way he works."

Newcastle United are reportedly planning a £150million injection of talent in the upcoming transfer window, with Arsenal left-back Kieran Tierney and Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby high on their list.

Tierney, 25, is a Scotland international with 37 senior caps to his name, but despite making 22 Premier League appearances this season, he has only been handed five starts.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe is keen to shift Dan Burn back into a central defensive spot where he is most comfortable, and views Tierney as capable of assuming a more integral role than he currently possesses at Arsenal.

Meanwhile, Leverkusen's 23-year-old winger Diaby is the priority in the front third, having contributed 14 goals and 10 assists during his 41 matches in all competitions.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE PLAN OFFSEASON SPENDING SPREE

According to The Sun, Howe has been told he will have £150m to spend, and he believes £30m is a fair price for Tierney as his potential new starting left-back.

Diaby has a number of fans, including Newcastle's Premier League competitors Arsenal, and is expected to cost in the neighbourhood of £62m (€70m).

Newcastle are also reported to have interest in Diaby's Leverkusen team-mate Mitchel Bakker, a 23-year-old left-back who could be an alternative to Tierney.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United are all planning bids for 27-year-old Fulham defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha, per Football Insider.

– The Daily Star is reporting Liverpool and 27-year-old Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips have mutual interest in a transfer, and he is believed to be available for £35m.

– According to The Telegraph, 29-year-old Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku will be given the opportunity to revive his career at Stamford Bridge under expected new boss Mauricio Pochettino.

– Sport is reporting Barcelona are hoping to land 30-year-old Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha on a free transfer, while his current club have offered a new £200,000 per week contract in an effort to make him stay.

What the papers say

Liverpool are hoping to sign Manchester City “outcast” Kalvin Phillips in a £35m deal this summer, the Daily Star says. Jurgen Klopp targeted the 27-year-old midfielder after being priced out of a move for Jude Bellingham.

Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph reports Romelu Lukaku will be asked whether or not he wants to try to revive his Chelsea career under proposed permanent head coach Mauricio Pochettino. The 29-year-old striker has spent the season on loan at Inter Milan after making it clear that he no longer wanted to play for former head coach Thomas Tuchel.

In more Blues news, the Evening Standard says Frank Lampard will make himself available as a sounding board for Pochettino to help ensure a smooth transition. The former Tottenham manager is due to take over at the end of the season.

And according to The Sun, Eddie Howe will have up to £150million to bolster his Newcastle squad this summer. The Magpies are laying plans to prepare their squad for a Champions League campaign next season and are willing to spend between £100-150million.

Social media round-up

Top four = big spending for Howe this summer. And he has targets ? ? https://t.co/vjUB6mcTgt

— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) April 26, 2023

Lampard on Mount: “New deal for him? Not my opinion. It will be the opinion of the club and the opinion of Mason, so that's between them”. ?⭐️ #CFC

“There’s no doubt, he’s top-class player. Trust me, it’s not easy to play with top players around and he’s managed to do that”. pic.twitter.com/oczA2DJdny

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 25, 2023

Players to watch

Lionel Messi: 90min says Barcelona are “leaving no stone unturned” in their bid to re-sign the 35-year-old Argentina forward from Paris St-Germain but a deal will not be straightforward.

Andre Onana: Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport reports Chelsea are interested in signing the 27-year-old Cameroon goalkeeper from Inter Milan and could use Kepa Arrizabalaga, 28, as part of the deal.

Romelu Lukaku thanked Inter's supporters and fitness staff after ending his long wait for a goal from open play in Serie A with a double in Sunday's 3-0 victory at Empoli.

The Belgium striker opened the scoring early in the second half at Stadio Carlo Castellani with a precise finish past Samuele Perisan and doubled his tally with an angled drive.

Those were Lukaku's fourth and fifth league goals of the season, and his first from open play since netting against Lecce on the opening weekend, some 253 days ago.

Lukaku, who also played in substitute Lautaro Martinez to round off the scoring in a routine win, is glad he can start repaying the support of those around him during a tough time.

"We must thank the fans – they give faith to the players to do better," he told Sky Sport Italia. "This has been a complicated season and we thank the fans for their support.

"I'm quicker in the change of pace and we are doing great work with the fitness staff. My previous injury was the most serious of my career, one that had never happened before."

Lukaku, who has scored 39 per cent of Inter's goals in all competitions (7/18) since the start of February, added: "I am getting more confident and want to keep helping the team."

The Chelsea loanee was recalled to the starting line-up as Simone Inzaghi rotated his side between facing Benfica in the Champions League and Juventus in the Coppa Italia.

After overcoming Benfica to set up a showdown with Milan, focus now turns to the Coppa Italia semi-final with Juve, which is poised at 1-1 heading into Wednesday's second leg.

Inzaghi has a big selection call to make in attack after Lukaku was cleared to play against Juve with his first-leg red card rescinded, but it is a headache he welcomes.

"It's a problem I want to have in every area," Inzaghi told DAZN. "I'm happy to have Lukaku available and we hope, with the exception of [Milan] Skriniar, everyone will be ready.

"We know how much [Lukaku] has suffered – unfortunately these things happen. He's working well and it's nice for a coach to have an abundance of problems like this."

 

Inter may be impressing in cup competitions, but they have struggled in the league of late, with Sunday's win snapping a five-game run without a victory since early March.

It is the first time Inter have won by a three-goal margin since defeating Bologna 6-1 in November, and they kept a clean sheet away from home for the first time in nine games.

While happy with the performance of his side against lowly Empoli, Inzaghi is not happy with the quick turnaround in games in what is an intense period of the campaign.

"We can't think further than our next match, which is just 72 hours away," Inzaghi said. "The calendar is insane because we play a lot. However, we can't have any excuses.

"This was the response we needed today. Players who haven't played for a while did well, though I never had any doubts over that.

"Now we have the Coppa Italia semi-final and we want to give our all in that game."

Romelu Lukaku scored twice and assisted another as Inter snapped a five-game winless run in Serie A with a 3-0 victory against lowly Empoli at Stadio Carlo Castellani on Sunday.

Inter booked their place in the Champions League semi-finals in midweek, but their poor domestic form – coupled with Juventus' points reprieve – had seen them drop to sixth. 

Simone Inzaghi's heavily rotated side took time to get going against Empoli, but Lukaku gave them a 48th-minute lead with his first league goal from open play since August.

Lukaku fired in another in the 76th minute and then teed up substitute Lautaro Martinez late on to seal the points that lift Inter up to fifth – temporarily at least – and within two points of fourth-placed Roma, who face Atalanta on Monday.

Samir Handanovic was one of those recalled between Inter's two cup ties and was equal to efforts from Nicolo Cambiaghi and Tommaso Baldanzi in the opening 20 minutes.
 
Roberto Gagliardini fired over from range as Inter struggled to create anything of note in a low-key first half, but Inter got their breakthrough three minutes into the second period.

Through his first sight of goal, Lukaku guided a precise shot away from Samuele Perisan into the bottom-left corner for just his fourth league strike of the campaign.

Empoli, now with just one win in 12 league games, offered little in response and fell further behind when Lukaku worked a yard of space and fired an angled shot past Perisan.

Lukaku was not finished there as he carried the ball forward and played in Martinez to convert from one-on-one and complete the routine victory.

Romelu Lukaku was dramatically cleared to face Juventus in the second leg of Inter's Coppa Italia semi-final as Italian football chiefs rescinded the red card he received for standing up to racist abuse.

An intervention on Saturday from the president of the Italian FA (FIGC), Gabriele Gravina, brought about the cancellation of Lukaku's second yellow card in the first leg of the Juventus tie.

That was despite the FIGC on Friday announcing the ban would stand, which was followed by an outraged response from Inter.

Inter reacted with dismay and "great sorrow" to Friday's ruling, saying it appeared Lukaku had been judged "the only guilty party" despite being the victim.

Gravina's decision to subsequently quash the verdict was warmly welcomed by Lukaku, who said in a statement on Inter's website: "I am really happy about this decision from the president of the FIGC, who has shown great sensitivity to the situation.

"I believe that thanks to his intervention, justice has been done and this sends out a great message to the whole world of sport and beyond. This has shown that the desire is there to fight racism."

The initial decision to uphold the red card and suspension had all the attributes of an embarrassing own goal for the FIGC amid efforts to show they take racism seriously.

Belgian striker Lukaku converted a penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage time to earn Inter a 1-1 draw in the semi-final first leg on April 4 at the Allianz Stadium.

He then used his finger to shush the home fans' vitriol and that reaction was deemed a bookable offence by referee Davide Massa. Lukaku had already been booked for a foul in the 80th minute, so the second yellow card saw him dismissed.

The Inter frontman, who is on loan from Chelsea, subsequently demanded action from Italian authorities after the latest case of him being targeted for abuse, while team-mate Edin Dzeko described the treatment from the Juventus fans as something "that should never happen".

FIFA president Gianni Infantino labelled the abuse "unacceptable" and called for those responsible to be punished.

A partial stadium closure was initially imposed on Juventus as a result of Lukaku being targeted, with the section from where the abuse came ordered to be shut for one game, but that decision was overturned, without an explanation being offered.

The second leg will take place on Wednesday at San Siro, and Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi will be relieved to have Lukaku available.

Saturday's apparent common sense decision from the FIGC was announced in a statement to Italian media, which announced Lukaku had been pardoned "in an exceptional and extraordinary way".

The FIGC statement added: "The principle of the fight against all forms of racism is a fundamental element of the sports system."

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