Belgium won their first World Cup group game 1–0 against underdogs Canada, but did not bask in the glory themselves in the process. The Red Devils repeatedly had big problems against the well-played Maple Leafs – and they were lucky the Canadiens didn’t get more penalties.
Scored the winning goal for Belgium: Ex-Dortmundar Michy Batshuayi.
Against underdogs Canada, Belgian coach Roberto Martinez sent his side onto the field aggressively – although top striker Lukaku had to sit out with a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Batshuayi, who was to be played by De Bruyne and Hazard. Defensively, the coach relied on experienced players in Dendonker (27), Vertonghen (35) and Alderweireld (33) – who were a total of 95 years old.
Canada Strong – Davis pardons from point
And the defensive line got a lot to do right from the start, as the Canadians, who had to defend an offensive game with Bayern figureheads Davis Buchanan and David, started strongly and presented the favorites Belgium with big problems. The Maple Leafs displayed a highly focused performance, were close to the man and, above all, played boldly from the front. The first intriguing scene came after about ten minutes: Carrasco blocked a shot by Buchanan with his hand which, after a VAR check, was a valid penalty (9th). Davies took responsibility, but failed with his weak penalty at Courtois (10th).
Brave favorite against lucky Canadian
The Belgians celebrated the parade, but the Canadians were undeterred and continued to impress after the scene with purposeful attacking football. The conversion of chances alone left much to be desired: Hoilett (16′), Hutchinson (27′) and Johnson (30′) failed to get the ball into the Red Devils’ goal on promising advances. The North Americans were also unlucky not to get another penalty when Witsel brought down Larrea in the penalty area (38′). A few times ago there was a need for discussion even after a foul – but the team made the wrong decision offside (14th).
The Belgians had hardly anything to oppose the high intensity of the Canadians, but then out of nowhere appeared dangerously in front of the Maple Leafs box – and hit straight: a long shot from Alderweireld when Batshuayi started , who was freezing, stayed free in front of Bjorn and netted on the right (44′) to take the lead. The Canadiens were not impressed with the goal they had conceded and had a chance to equalize before the break when Buchanan overshot from a good position (45+3).
red devils rise
The Maple Leafs stayed true to their stylistic device in the second half, going for it early and not allowing the Belgian to develop. The Red Devils now defended much better, which is why it was not possible to score top-class goals or at least big deals from the underdog’s point of view, apart from David’s header (48th).
Despite this, Canada played hard, having been ranked favorites during the game. However, these were not used adequately as, despite high individual class in attack, ideas were usually missing and attacks were not played out in a goal-oriented manner to the end. Batshua was denied a last minute finish (67′), De Bruyne shot well from distance (85′).
In the final leg, the North Americans again threw everything at it, but despite some promising chances from Larin (80′, 86′), they were unable to equalise. As a result, it remained a tight 1:0 for the favourites.
Belgium continues with the second group game against Morocco on Sunday (2pm). Three hours later Canada are challenged against Croatia – and in only their second World Cup participation they will continue to work on course to score their first goal in the final, in what will then be their fifth game.
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