Belgium 1- 0 Canada: 5 talking points as Michy Batshuayi’s first-half goal helps Roberto Martinez side to an unlikely win
Belgium got their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign off to a winning start as Michy Batshuayi’s 44th-minute goal helped them defeat Canada 1-0 in their Group F game on Wednesday (23 November).
Canada had the chance to take an early lead when VAR awarded them a penalty as Yannick Carrasco was given a yellow card for a handball inside the box. Bayern Munich defender Alphonso Davies’ effort from the spot was guessed correctly by Thibaut Courtois and the Red Devils kept their clean sheet intact.
Canada dominated proceedings in the initial stages of the game and created a lot of chances but lacked the final touch. Batshuayi was set up by a solid pass from Toby Alderweireld and the Fenerbahçe striker made the most of the chance with a crisp finish.
The second half kick-started on a similar note to the first half but Belgium improved their performance slightly after taking the lead. Canada’s efforts went in vain as they failed to find the equalizing goal.
With Belgium taking the top spot in Group F after their first group stage game, here we take a look at the five talking points from the contest.
Belgium inch closer to breaking an all-time record with the narrow win
There were not a lot of positives to take home for Belgium in their 1-0 win over Canada. Still, with this win, they have equalled Brazil’s record of winning eight consecutive games in the group stage of the World Cup.
It was also the third time that they had picked up a win in the opening game of the FIFA World Cup. Since 2014, they have picked up 11 wins in their 13 games at the World Cup, more than any other team in that period.
A win is a win and they are now in the top spot in Group F after Morocco and Croatia played out a goalless draw on Wednesday.
Thibaut Courtois was a busy man and showed his class
Les Rouges were handed a golden opportunity to take an early lead in the game when they were awarded a penalty following a VAR check in the 10th minute. They dictated the run of play in those early minutes of the game and given their confident display, Alphonso Davies was expected to score from the spot.
Well, Real Madrid defender Thibaut Courtois read Davies’ penalty well and dived to his right to make an important save. This save would go on to prove match-winning as Canada were unable to score in the game.
He was also called into action in the second half and made a good save in the 80th minute from Jonathan David’s headed attempt.
Canada were a bit wasteful in the final third
Canada recorded 22 shots in the game against Belgium, though only three of them were on target and one came from the penalty spot. They held the upper hand against their European opponents for the majority of the game but were unable to get the final touch.
They finished at the top of the CONCACAF qualifying group ahead of the USA and Mexico but failed to reproduce that form in this game. It is possible that the pressure got to them.
Canada’s search for the first goal and first point at the FIFA World Cup continues
Canada will be wondering how they failed to score against Belgium in a game in which they controlled the tempo from the get-go. The North American team are making just their second appearance at the FIFA World Cup and looked to be in good touch in the campaign opener.
In their previous appearance at the competition in 1986, they lost all three of their group-stage games and were unable to score a goal in those defeats as well. As they fail to score a goal in this match and suffer a narrow defeat, their poor record in the competition continues.
Belgium can count themselves lucky as they come away with a narrow win
It was one of those games where luck played an important role, almost as important as the skills of the players. Belgium were the second-best side throughout the game and had struggled to create chances while Canada enjoyed a solid run in the first half.
It seemed that despite missing the penalty, the Canadians will be the ones to break the deadlock. Then, all of a sudden, the Red Devils scored through Batshuayi. The goal was completely against the run of play and worked out simply because of one great pass and good control of the ball from the striker. Nine times out of 10, something would’ve gone wrong and the striker would’ve messed up the chance. But it all worked out well for the team that finished third in 2018.
Roberto Martinez’s men will need to work on themselves as they got lucky here and luck is bound to run out some time.