Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic completed a perfect week for the striker in World Cup qualifying with two more goals to help the Balkan nation to a 2-1 win at Azerbaijan and provisionally kept them top of Group A.
The result left Serbia on seven points from three games, three ahead of Portugal who visit Luxembourg later on Tuesday. Third-placed Luxembourg have three points from one game, having won in Dublin on Saturday night, while the Republic of Ireland and Azerbaijan have none from two.
The brace took Mitrovic's tally to five goals in Serbia's opening three qualifiers for the 2022 tournament in Qatar and also extended his all-time leading scoring record for his country to 41 goals in 64 appearances.
Mitrovic, who has struggled at Premier League side Fulham in recent months, fired the Serbians ahead in the 16th minute with a scorching low shot from 15 metres after he took a fine pass by captain Dusan Tadic into his stride.
Serbia goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic denied the home side an equaliser when he thwarted Ali Ghorbani in the 30th minute after some sloppy defending by the visitors, who were punished on the hour as they conceded a clumsy penalty.
There was one game in Republic of Ireland's group earlier and Aleksandar Mitrovic, who had a decisive impact against the Boys in Green last week, has helped Serbia to a 2-1 win in Azerbaijan— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) March 30, 2021
Here are the goals from that Group A fixture #RTESoccer pic.twitter.com/ZmJ0r7TDhA
Filip Kostic clattered into Emin Makhmudov just inside the area and the Azeri midfielder sent Rajkovic the wrong way with a coolly taken spot-kick.
It looked like Serbia would not find a winner after home keeper Shakhruddin Magomedaliyev kept out a Mitrovic sitter in the 74th minute but the 26-year-old Serb had the last laugh with a goal of the highest quality.
Mitrovic let a through ball come onto his weaker left foot before he unleashed a rasping volley from 16 metres into the bottom left corner in the 81st minute, with Magomedaliyev clutching thin air.