Belgium held out with 10 men to beat Austria 3-2 in Vienna on Friday and ensure a top-two finish in Euro 2024 qualifying group F. It built a three-goal lead with Dodi Lukebakio’s first two international goals and a third by Romelu Lukaku.
Konrad Laimer hit back for the home side. Belgium midfielder Amadou Onana collected a second yellow card and Marcel Sabitzer converted an 81st minute penalty but the visitors clung on.
Austria will have to wait a little longer to be sure of qualification but it is seven points ahead of Sweden and can lock up its berth with a win in one of its last two matches against Azerbaijan on Monday or Estonia in November.
The Belgians opened the scoring after 12 minutes after a display of power from Sevilla winger Lukebakio, who rounded off his charge with a curling shot for a first international goal.
Strasbourg keeper Matz Sels, replacing injured Thibaut Courtois, was impeccable when the Austrians did threaten.
Lukebakio doubled the lead with a low, deflected shot after 55 and three minutes later captain Lukaku drilled in the third.
But Belgium’s cushion quickly began to deflate.
After 73 minutes, Austrian captain Laimer scored with a well-placed shot from the edge of the area.
Five minutes later Belgium went down to 10 men when midfielder Onana collected his second yellow card.
Under pressure in their own area, Arthur Theate handled in the box with six minutes left and Sabitzer converted the penalty.
The Belgian team held firm, picking up its fifth win in six games. It remains unbeaten in the group to qualify for a third straight European Championship for the first time in its history.