Canada fails to bring the pressure to bear in the exciting Group F encounter as the Belgians escape a huge upset.
Belgium weathered a Canadian storm in a thrilling Group F encounter to record a 1-0 win, courtesy of Michy Batshuayi’s 44th-minute goal.
The European team, ranked second best in the world, struggled to match Canada’s intensity at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Wednesday night, but will be grateful to have avoided a major upset. by escaping with a victory.
For their part, the Canadians will lament a litany of missed opportunities, including star player Alphonso Davies’ failure to convert from the penalty spot after just 15 minutes.
Thibaut Courtois’ save prevented the 22-year-old from scoring what would have been Canada’s first World Cup goal. In their only other World Cup appearance in Mexico in 1986, Canada lost all three games and failed to score once.
Unfazed by the initial setback, the Canadian attack continued to press for the first 45 minutes, their speed wreaking havoc on the Belgian defense and keeping Courtois busy.
But against the tide of play, Belgium took the lead when Batshuayi stepped between two defenders, ran for a long ball and fired past goalkeeper Milan Borjan just before half-time.
Batshuayi was only playing because starting striker Romelu Lukaku was injured and could miss the entire group stage.
Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ struggles to keep up
The second half was more even, with both teams creating scoring chances.
But overall, Canada had 21 shots on target compared to nine recorded by Belgium, whose well-established, star-studded team was far from convincing.
There were six 30-year-olds in the starting lineup, four of them with more than 100 international appearances.
Courtois and key midfielder Kevin De Bruyne could also reach triple figures at this World Cup, in what increasingly looks like the last hurrah for this group, which has often been described as a “golden generation” of Belgian footballers. .
Manager Roberto Martínez admitted after the match that his team had been second best across the board, but hailed the win as an important foundation on which Belgium could build their tournament campaign.
In fact, all the best moves came from a mobile, attacking team from Canada in front of their rowdy Maple Leaf-waving fans. They had 14 shots in the first half alone, the most by a team in the World Cup without scoring in 16 years.
Stage-fit fans 🙌
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Davies excelled with his runs from left-back, while captain Atiba Hutchinson, at the age of 39, became the oldest outfield player to start a World Cup match.
But their failure to convert the plethora of chances they generated leaves them bottom of Group F, propping up Morocco and Croatia, who have one point each, and top-seeded Belgium.
Canada’s next outing will see them take on Croatia on Sunday, and Belgium take on Morocco on the same day. A victory for Martínez’s pupils would guarantee their pass to the knockout phase.