Carrasco strike in Baku lifts Belgium top of Euro qualifying group

AFP , Saturday 9 Sep 2023

Saudi-based Yannick Carrasco scored the only goal to give Belgium a 1-0 win in Azerbaijan and lift them top of their Euro 2024 qualifying group on Saturday.

Yannick Carrasco
Belgium's Yannick Carrasco celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Euro 2024 group F qualifying soccer match between Azerbaijan and Belgium at the Dalga Arena in Baku, Azerbaijan, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. Photo: AP


Belgium's new manager Domenico Tedesco was missing injured duo Thibaut Courtois and Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne for this tricky trip to Baku.

Appointed in February as successor to Roberto Martinez Tedesco stretched his unbeaten run since taking up his first national team appointment to five matches.

Martinez stepped down after Belgium, third in the 2018 World Cup, failed to qualify for the knockout stage at last year's World Cup in Qatar.

Former Schalke, Spartak Moscow, and Leipzig boss Tedesco had Carrasco's 38th minute strike to thank for maintaining his bright start to qualifying for next year's Euros in his home country Germany.

Carrasco pounced on a fortuitous rebound from Johan Bakayoko's attempt to shoot past Azerbaijan keeper Shakhruddin Magomedaliyev.

Belgium captain Romelu Lukaku had gone close to helping put the visitors into a fourth minute lead only for Leandro Trossard to hit the post with his assist.

Koen Casteels, standing in for Courtois in goal, did well to produce a diving save to deny Renat Dadashov.

Casteels was then helped out by Arthur Theate who stepped in to block a powerful shot from Azerbaijani captain Emin Makhmudov.

The win pushed Belgium up to 10 points in Group F, level with Austria but topping the table thanks to goal difference.

For Carrasco, 30, this 10th goal for his country came following his move from Atletico Madrid to Saudi Pro League side Al-Shabab.

Belgium, runners-up in the 1980 Euros, next face Estonia at home on Tuesday with Austria in Sweden.

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