Belgium labored to victory in their opening World Cup game as they were pushed all
the way by an outstanding effort from Canada.
Canada dominated large portions of this Group F game but was wasteful in front of
goal, particularly when Alphonso Davies saw a first-half penalty saved by Belgium
keeper Thibaut Courtois.
Courtois also had to save well from Alistair Johnston, but Canada were undone
against the run of play on the stroke of half-time when Michy Batshuayi collected
Toby Alderweireld’s long ball and fired a powerful left-foot finish past Milan Borjan.
Jonathan David wasted a glorious headed chance to draw Canada level and Courtois
also saved from Cyle Larin. Canada were also left nursing a sense of injustice after
they had two presentable penalty appeals ignored in the first half.
Canada continued to push forward in the second half but it was Roberto Martinez’s
side who closed out the win, despite a performance that made a mockery of their
status as second in the world rankings.
“Canada deserved to be better than us in the way they played,” Martinez told Match
of the Day. “It’s a win and we need to play better and to grow.
“This tournament is going to make you develop and grow as the tournament goes on.
If you do that by winning games, it’s an incredible advantage.
“Today we didn’t win by our normal talent and quality on the ball, but you don’t win
in the World Cup if you don’t do the other side of the game.”