Michy Batshauyi scored the game-winning goal in Belgium’s first match of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a 1-0 victory against Canada, after Alphonso Davies missed an early penalty.
Alphonso Davies’ penalty kick misses a good chance for Canada to grab an early lead in their second World Cup finals appearance.
Just before halftime, Belgium forward Batshuayi capitalized by scoring the game’s lone goal, giving the Red Devils a tight Group F victory in Qatar.
In their only previous World Cup finals participation in 1986, Canada lost all three games without scoring, and their search for their first point and first goal continues into Sunday’s match against Croatia.
Canada full of vigor, but Belgium wins by a hair.
Taylor Buchanan’s shot struck Yannick Carrasco’s arm in the box on the ten-minute mark, presenting Canada with a golden opportunity to grab the lead, but Alphonso Davies’ feeble attempt was saved by Thibaut Courtois.
The North American side maintained their first-half domination, with an aging Belgian defense repeatedly buckling in the face of waves of assaults, but they fell behind after 44 minutes.
The Canada defense failed to cope with a Toby Alderweireld punt upfield, and Batshuayi capitalized by bringing the ball down in the box with one touch before striking it powerfully into the back of the goal with his second.
Roberto Martinez made two substitutions at halftime, substituting Amadou Onana and Thomas Meunier for Youri Tielemans and Carrasco, which revealed a lot about Belgium’s performance in the first half despite gaining the lead.
The substitutions assisted in stemming some of Canada’s momentum as Belgium secured an uneasy opening win. Next, they will play Morocco, with a victory likely advancing them to the round of 16.
Martinez: Canada was superior to us.
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez:
“The game was really challenging. Canada was superior to us in our desired endeavors. They play with a great deal of speed and directness, so we had to demonstrate a different aspect of our game.
“I’m ecstatic because we won the game through tenacity, experience, and the skill of our goalie, who saved a penalty kick to keep us in the game. For me, winning is more essential than playing well.
“Canada’s performance deserved to be superior than ours due to the manner in which they approached it. But in the end, the outcome represents what we had to accomplish, how we protected each other, and how we seized our opportunity.
“You’ve seen a number of strong teams lose games, and as they advance in the tournament, you evolve and improve. If you do this via winning games, you have a tremendous edge. Clearly, we did not play well, but we must be realistic and accept the victory. When a team can win without playing well, there is a lot of room for improvement.”
Belgium are no longer a side to be feared
“Roberto Martinez presented a strong front. Having avoided an opening-night upset at the hands of Canada, he had every right to dwell on the positives, but warning bells will almost surely be ringing if you scratch the surface of the outcome.
This World Cup was hailed as the final opportunity for Belgium’s golden generation to shine on the global stage, but their lackluster, fragmented performance in Qatar raised the possibility that opportunity has already gone.
“It may seem premature to make such a judgment after one game for a team with Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard, and Thibaut Courtois, but there are several worries about Belgium’s qualifications.
“Michy Batshuayi scored the game-winning goal, but the sight of the former Chelsea and Crystal Palace forward leading the line revealed their over-reliance on the injury-prone Romelu Lukaku. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, two renowned defenders in their prime, were continually harassed by the Canadian onslaught at the back.
“Had Canada had an attacker of Alphonso Davies’ caliber, Belgium would have met the same fate as Argentina and Germany.” They got away with it this time, but there was no indication that the same would occur against stronger resistance.”
What the outcome implies
The win propels Belgium to the top of Group F after their first match, above Croatia and Morocco, who drew 0-0 earlier in the day.
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