Belgium 1-0 Canada: Michy Batshuayi strike enough but Red Devils hugely fortunate in World Cup clash
Michy Batshuayi’s stunning first-time finish secured Belgium all three points with a 1-0 win in their opening Group F match but they were fortunate to beat Canada.
The former Chelsea forward struck in the 44th minute after a long ball from ex-Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld.
The Maples Leafs should have been ahead by that point after dominating the first half and winning a penalty for a handball by Yannick Carrasco after Tajon Buchanan’s volley.
Talisman Alphonso Davies stepped up and saw his tame spot-kick saved by Thibaut Courtois just ten minutes into the match.
It didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for John Herdman’s side who were making their first appearance at the World Cup since 1986.
Jonathan David, Stephen Eustaquio, Junior Hoilett, Richie Laryea, Alistair Johnston and Buchanan all had efforts either saved or went close during a dominant first 45 minutes.
Atiba Hutchinson took England’s David James’s record to become the oldest debutant in the World Cup and dominated at the back.
Belgian Red Devils manager Roberto Martinez responded well to a poor half using a double substitution at half-time, taking off Carrasco and Youri Tielemans for Thomas Meunier and Amadou Onana.
Onana was particularly responsible for wrestling back control and allowing the semi-finalists of 2018 to hold onto victory.
A late header from substitute Larin Cyle showed Canada were still a threat but it was too tame to beat the world class Courtois.
Canada's wasteful finishing sees them go four games without scoring in their World Cup appearances, setting an unwanted record for the North American nation.