Romelu Lukaku hoped to have answered some of his critics with a hat-trick in Belgium’s Euro 2024 qualifying opener at Sweden.
Lukaku scored all three goals as Belgium claimed a 3-0 win in what had looked like the toughest game of their campaign.
Goals have not flowed so easily at the club level this season, with Lukaku returning to Inter and scoring just three times in Serie A – albeit while hampered by injury.
But Friday’s game was a step in the right direction as Belgium’s record goalscorer said: “It was not an easy game, but we can be satisfied. We did well.
“I am happy that I can play minutes and show the outside world what I can do.”
The “outside world” had been an issue for Belgium at the 2022 World Cup, Lukaku suggested, as he reflected following the Sweden game on their group-stage exit.
“I was extremely disappointed,” he said, as reported by HLN. “For the first time, we let ourselves be affected by the sounds of the outside world.
“The team has always been close and you saw that today. When I scored, everyone jumped up. We must continue this momentum.”
Lukaku’s match-winning turn came in the first game under new coach Domenico Tedesco, with Belgium leaving their Qatar disappointment behind in a new era following Roberto Martinez’s departure.
“We started to play much more offensively,” Lukaku said of their approach under Tedesco. “We haven’t had much time to prepare, but I’m happy.
“Change is not a bad thing, as long as the results follow.”