Carrasco’s Strike In Baku Lifts Belgium Top Of Euro Qualifying Group

Belgium’s midfielder Yannick Carrasco and his teammate midfielder Johan Bakayoko celebrate after scoring their first goal during the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying first round group F football match between Azerbaijan and Belgium in Baku on September 9, 2023. (Photo by TOFIK BABAYEV / AFP)

Belgium won 1-0 in Azerbaijan on Saturday, moving them to the top of their Euro 2024 qualifying group thanks to a goal by Saudi-born Yannick Carrasco.

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Domenico Tedesco, Belgium’s new manager, was without injured duo Thibaut Courtois and Manchester City sensation Kevin De Bruyne for their difficult trip to Baku.

Tedesco, who was appointed as Roberto Martinez’s replacement in February, extended his unbeaten streak to five matches since his first national team assignment.

Martinez resigned down after Belgium finished third in the 2018 World Cup but failed to qualify for the knockout stage in Qatar.

Tedesco, a former Schalke, Spartak Moscow, and Leipzig manager, credited Carrasco’s 38th-minute goal for keeping his team on track to qualify for next year’s Euros in Germany.

Carrasco took advantage of a fortunate bounce from Johan Bakayoko’s attempt to beat Azerbaijan goalie Shakhruddin Magomedaliyev.

Belgium captain Romelu Lukaku came close to putting the visitors ahead in the fourth minute, only for Leandro Trossard’s assist to hit the post.

Koen Casteels, who was filling in for Courtois in goal, made a diving save to deny Renat Dadashov.

Arthur Theate then came in to support Casteels by blocking a strong shot from Azerbaijani captain Emin Makhmudov.

The victory moved Belgium up to 10 points in Group F, level with Austria but ahead on goal difference.

Carrasco, 30, scored his tenth goal for his country after joining Al-Shabab from Atletico Madrid in the Saudi Pro League.

Belgium, who finished second in the 1980 Euros, will play Estonia at home on Tuesday before facing Austria in Sweden.

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