Belgium's Nations League hopes fell flat on Thursday, but Yannick Carrasco insists the squad still have faith they can achieve glory at the 2022 World Cup.

The world's number one ranked team squandered a two-goal lead as France came back to win 3-2 in their semi-final clash in Turin, Theo Hernandez scoring the crucial fifth goal of a thrilling contest in the 90th minute.

Instead of heading to San Siro to face Spain in the final, Belgium are instead back at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday, going up against European champions Italy in a third-place play-off.

It is the second such match during Roberto Martinez's tenure, the Barcelona-linked coach having previously guided Belgium to the semi-finals of World Cup 2018, where they also fell foul of France.

Belgium defeated England to claim third place in Russia, before reaching the quarter-finals at Euro 2020. Sunday's opponents Italy beat them there.

When asked if Belgium's squad still held belief in their ability to challenge at next year's World Cup in Qatar, Atletico Madrid winger Carrasco turned the tables on the media.

"Do we believe that we can win a prize in Qatar? We always believe in ourselves," he told a news conference.

"But do you still believe in us? Because we don't have that feeling. We know that we have a good team, that we can do something beautiful.

"On Friday, the coach showed what we did well and what we did badly.

"That is necessary to prepare for Qatar. A year is not long with the national team, we will use the match against France to get better."

 

Martinez, meanwhile, said a new cycle had now started for Belgium as they look to build towards the World Cup, which arguably presents the final chance for the Red Devils' 'golden generation' to claim a trophy.

He said: "A new cycle has started, that of preparing for the World Cup.

"Over the past five years we have created a style of play. Multiple players can bring what the team needs but our style of play goes beyond individuals. 

"We have been number one in the world for three years. Of course that is important. We want to remain number one. But our main motivation is to get better. The second half against France showed we are not the finished product."

Belgium will be out for revenge against the Azzurri, aiming to at least end their Nations League campaign on a high. However, they will be without Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, who have both been withdrawn due to what Martinez described as "muscle overload".

"I cannot say," Martinez said when asked if the duo would be fit for their clubs next week. "That is a question for the medical department. But it is definitely about overload and not injury."

Thomas Lemar struck in the 99th minute to complete a dramatic late comeback as Atletico Madrid edged past Espanyol 2-1 at RCDE Stadium on Antoine Griezmann's second debut for the club.

Espanyol had failed to score in their opening three games since returning to the top flight – and a joint-LaLiga record eight matches stretching back into their last campaign at this level – but they took the lead through Raul de Tomas' 40th-minute header.

That was a deserved opener for the hosts in a half they dominated and Diego Simeone responded by making a triple substitution at half-time and changing system.

Simeone's alternations ultimately paid off in an incredible conclusion to Sunday's contest as Lemar – one of those brought on – found a winner deep into added time after Yannick Carrasco had got the champions back on level terms 20 minutes earlier.

Atletico Madrid tightened their grip at the LaLiga summit after cruising to a 5-0 win over rock-bottom Eibar at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Los Colchoneros' bid for a first top-flight title since the 2013-14 season had faltered in recent weeks, but just a second win in six games keeps them a step ahead of neighbours Real Madrid. This result meant Real stood four points behind Atletico heading into a clash with Getafe later on Sunday.

Diego Simeone's home side were poor for much of the first half, yet Angel Correa struck twice shortly before the interval to give them a healthy lead.

Yannick Carrasco and Marcos Llorente added gloss to the scoreline in the second half as Atleti extended their unbeaten home run over Eibar to seven matches.

Despite a dismal start, which did not herald a shot until the 34th minute, Atleti went in at the break two goals to the good.

Correa opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, prodding in at the back post after Hector Herrera headed on Kieran Trippier's corner.

The man who made the breakthrough grabbed a second goal just two minutes later, superbly turning Anaitz Arbilla after collecting Carrasco's pass before slotting past Marko Dmitrovic from close range for his sixth goal of the season.

The hosts extended their advantage four minutes after the restart, Carrasco latching onto Saul Niguez's long ball over the top, rounding Dmitrovic and rolling into an empty net.

Correa turned provider for Atleti's fourth in the 53rd minute, his low pull-back into the middle of the penalty expertly dispatched by Llorente into Dmitrovic's bottom-right corner.

Llorente scored his 11th LaLiga goal of the season in the 68th minute, controlling Carrasco's pass before firing a half-volley past a hopelessly exposed Dmitrovic as Atleti sealed all three points in style.

Yannick Carrasco is a doubt for Atletico Madrid's Champions League last-16 first leg against Chelsea next week after suffering a leg injury.

Atleti on Friday revealed Belgium international Carrasco has sustained an injury setback but did not specify how long he will be out of action.

A club statement said: "Yannick Carrasco has suffered a post-traumatic injury of the left leg musculature, an MRI scan and a medical ultrasound performed at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra confirmed the injury. The Belgian is pending response to treatment."

LaLiga leaders Atleti face Levante at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday, before taking on Chelsea at the neutral venue of the Arena Nationala in Bucharest three days later.

Carrasco only recently returned after missing three matches following his positive coronavirus test.

There was better news on midfielder Thomas Lemar, who is back in contention after recovering from COVID-19, while Moussa Dembele is nearing a return.

Diego Simeone told a news conference: "Yannick has a knock from the game against Granada. It's still affecting him. We'll see how it evolves.

"The good news is Lemar is with us and we look forward to Dembele possibly being able to return tomorrow and to continue adding people as quickly as possible."

Simeone's side are six points clear of second-placed Real Madrid with a game in hand after they were held to a 1-1 draw with Levante on Wednesday.

Yannick Carrasco and Mario Hermoso have tested positive for coronavirus and face a period of self-isolation, Atletico Madrid have announced.

Atletico said on Saturday that the positive results had been returned the previous day and the players have already been isolating at home.

The club have not communicated how long the two players will have to isolate or when they will be expected back in training.

However, both will miss Sunday's trip to Cadiz and are unlikely to face Celta Vigo a week on Monday.

While losing two important players will undoubtedly be a blow to head coach Diego Simeone, his side are sitting pretty at LaLiga's summit.

They have won seven in a row in the league and sat seven points clear of rivals Real Madrid at the top of the table heading into the weekend, with Los Colchoneros also having a game in hand.

Both Hermoso and Carrasco have played 15 out of Atletico's 18 LaLiga matches this term.

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