Canada fail to make the pressure appear in a thrilling Group F showdown as the Belgians escape a major upset.
Belgium faced a Canadian storm in a thrilling Group F clash on Wednesday night to record a 1-0 victory thanks to Michy Batshuayi’s 44th-minute winner.
The European side, ranked second in the world, put up a good fight at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium as they battled to match Canada and will be delighted to have avoided a major upset. by escaping with victory.
At home, the Canadians squandered a number of missed opportunities including star player Alphonso Davies’ failure to convert from a penalty just 15 minutes into the game.
Thibaut Courtois’ save denied the 22-year-old to see what would have been Canada’s first World Cup goal. In their World Cup match in Mexico in 1986, Canada lost all three games and failed to hit the net once.
Undeterred by the early knock, Canada’s attack continued throughout the opening 45 minutes, their pace causing chaos in the Belgian defense and keeping Courtois busy.
But against the run of play, Belgium took the lead when Batshuayi broke between two defenders, raced onto a long ball and fired past Milan Borjan just before the break.
Batshuayi only plays because first-choice Romelu Lukaku is injured and could miss the entire squad.
Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ struggles to fit in with Canadians
The second half was more of the same, with both sides creating chances to score.
But overall, Canada had 21 shots on goal compared to the nine registered by Belgium, whose stable, star-studded squad was unaffected.
There were six players in their 30s in the starting line-up, four of whom have played more than 100 international games.
Courtois and the main player Kevin De Bruyne can also reach three figures at this World Cup, which seems to be the last of this group, which is often called the “golden age” of Belgian football players.
Coach Roberto Martinez admitted after the game that his side were the best of the group, but hailed the win as an important foundation on which Belgium can build their play-off campaign.
Indeed, all the good moves came from a traveling and attacking Canadian team in front of their loud, Maple Leaf fans. They scored 14 shots in the first half alone, the most they have scored at a World Cup in 16 years.
The fans are on stage 🙌
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) November 23, 2022
Davies stood out with his runs from left back as captain Atiba Hutchinson, at 39, became the oldest player to start a World Cup match.
But their failure to convert many of their chances leaves them at the bottom of Group F, ahead of Morocco and Croatia, who have one point apiece, and first-placed Belgium.
Canada’s next tour will see them face Croatia on Sunday, while Belgium face Morocco on the same day. The success of Martinez’s performance could ensure that he moves past the knockout stage.