Michy Batshuayi led Belgium to a 1-0 win over Canada in the opening game of their 2022 World Cup campaign.
Playing in their second World Cup final, Canada missed a chance to take the lead, Alphonso Davies’ save.
Belgium striker Batshuayi took advantage just before the end of the period when he fired home the only goal of the game, sealing the Red Devils victory in Group F in Qatar.
Canada lost all three of their games without scoring in their last World Cup match in 1986, and their wait for a first point and first goal extends into their next game against Croatia on Sunday.
Big moments in sports…
- 10 min: Canada win a penalty but Thibaut Courtois saves Alphonso Davies.
- 44 min: Michy Batshuayi capitalizes on Canada’s defense to give Belgium the lead.
Canada full of verve but Belgium sneaked a win
Canada were given the chance to take the lead on 10 minutes after Taylor Buchanan hit Yannick Carrasco’s hand in the box, but Davies saw his effort saved by Thibaut Courtois.
The North American side continued to dominate in the first half, with the aging Belgian backline repeatedly faltering in the face of threats, but somehow fell behind on 44 minutes.
A Toby Alderweireld punt upfield was not dealt with by the Canadian defence, and Batshuayi took advantage as he dropped the ball into the box and took one touch before dropping a second into the back of the net.
It said a lot about Belgium’s performance in the first half that, despite taking the lead, Roberto Martinez still saw the need to make two changes at the break, subbing Amadou Onana and Thomas Meunier for Youri Tielemans and Carrasco.
The changes helped stem the Canadian tide, while Belgium saw off the opening win. They face Morocco next, a win that would see them through to the last 16.
Martinez: Canada was better than us
Belgian manager Roberto Martinez:
“It was a very difficult game. Canada was better than us in what we wanted to do. They have a lot of movement and focus, and to be fair we had to show a different side to our game.
“I’m happy because we won the game because of the alertness and skill, and the quality of our goalkeeper who will make you stay in the game without taking penalties. Winning for me is more important than when you play well.
“Canada had to be better than us the way they went the way they did. But in the end the result shows what we had to do and how we defended each other, and we took advantage.
“You have seen many top teams lose games and in this competition you grow and grow as you go. If you do this winning the game is an amazing opportunity. We didn’t play well, it’s clear, but we have to be. of course I appreciate the win. If a team can win a game without playing well, that’s important.”
Player of the match – Thibaut Courtois
A save from Davies’ early penalty turned out to be a crucial moment for Belgium, and, calm and composed behind Belgium’s solid defence, Courtois proved why he is the best player in the world.
What does the latter mean?
Belgium will go top of Group F after their opening game, ahead of Croatia and Morocco who shared a goal earlier in the day.
What else happened at the World Cup on Wednesday?
There was a big shake-up in Group E as two late goals saw them off Japan from behind to strike Germany 2-1, when Spain took control of the group after the hit Costa Rica 7-0.