World Cup 2022: Brave Canada rues missed chances in loss to Belgium
Al Rayyan, Qatar - Michy Batshuayi gave Belgium a 1-0 win over unlucky Canada in the World Cup on Wednesday after Alphonso Davies had an early penalty saved and his teammates missed a host of chances.
This is only Canada's second World Cup, and having lost all three games without scoring in 1986, the occasion felt heavy with history.
Led by Bayern Munich's Davies, back from a hamstring injury, the Reds shouldered that weight like it was nothing and they completely outplayed the second-ranked Belgians in the first half.
Within 10 minutes, Yannick Carrasco's handball gave Davies a golden opportunity to become his country's first ever World Cup goalscorer, but his indecisive penalty kick was saved by Thibaut Courtois. It was the story of a game in which Canada could not apply the finishing touch.
It was the exact opposite for Belgium, who finished third at the 2018 tournament and was without striker Romelu Lukaku. Roberto Martinez's side seemed hassled and unsettled by their opponents' pressing and created very little. Kevin De Bruyne was strangely anonymous, Eden Hazard almost invisible, but it mattered little when Batshuayi latched onto a long ball just before the break and scored against the run of play.
More of the same followed in the second half, although the Canadians tired and left themselves vulnerable to counterattacks, which the Red Devils never took full advantage of.
All in all, it was something of a moral victory for the underdogs, who will seriously complicate matters in Group F if they can reproduce this performance.
Canada stays positive after disappointment
Martinez was under no illusions when it came to Belgium's display: "We need to play better, we need to grow. You have seen many top teams losing games. We didn't play well, that is clear. But when a team can win when not playing well, that is something to build on."
Canada coach John Herdman, on the other hand, stayed positive: "I'm proud of the performance. These lads put a shift in and showed they can live on this stage. They made the fans proud."
Luka Modrić's Croatia earlier had a frustrating start as the 2018 runners-up were held to a goalless draw by stubborn Morocco in the other group game.
Cover photo: REUTERS