Belgium vs Canada 1-0: Batshuayi Saves the Golden Generation

Belgium took the three points but it was Canada to impress. The last World Cup dance of the Red Devils’ Golden Generation started with a lackluster performance in which Roberto Martinez’s side huffed and puffed to put a single goal past the North Americans.

In the end, it was Romelu Lukaku’s backup Michy Batshuayi to open a breach in the Canadian defense on 44 minutes, after Thibaut Courtois had denied Alphonso Davies from the spot, preventing him from sealing a tie at one that perhaps would have been a fair outcome.  

That’s even more true considering that the referee Janny Sikazwe didn’t exactly give a hand to Canada, denying them what looked like two clear penalties on top of the one that Davies failed to convert. 

Canada put up a courageous display in the first World Cup game in 36 years. The last time they had walked the world stage was in 1986. They ended with three losses and no goals scored but if they keep showing the same grit seen tonight it will not be difficult for them to do better than that.

The big regret for the boys coached by John Herdman (who tonight became the first manager to have directed both a men and women’s team in a World Cup) was failing to find the net when they were clearly having the upper hand. They had a gigantic chance on 10 minutes as the VAR spotted a Yannick Carrasco handball in the Belgian area that the referee had missed.

However, Alphonso Davies’ conversion was poor and this is not something you can afford when the opposition goal is defended by the Yashin Trophy winner Courtois.

The Canadians’ inconsistency upfront was punished on 44 minutes as Belgium broke the deadlock from their very first chance – which would end up being the only real one of their night.

Toby Alderweireld picked Batshuayi with an apparently useless long ball but the Fenerbahce forward took advantage of a rare mistake from the Canadian center backs to sneak past the defensive line and pierce goalkeeper Milan Borjan. 

Canada’s pressure inevitably faded in the second half and Roberto Martinez’s side had an easier time in controlling their offenses and wrapping an ugly but fundamental win, even though their star Kevin De Bruyne was not in one of his best night and Eden Hazard continued to appear only the pale shadow of the legal striker he once used to be.  



November 23, 2022 – FIFA World Cup Group F

SCORERS: 44′ Batshuayi

BELGIUM (3-4-2-1): Courtois; Dendoncker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Castagne, Tielemans (46′ Onana), Witsel, Carrasco (46’ Meunier); De Bruyne, E. Hazard (62’ Trossard); Batshuayi  (79’ Openda) (Mignolet, Casteels, Faes, Debast, Theate, Vanaken, T. Hazard, De Ketelaere, Mertens, Doku) Coach: Martinez
CANADA (3-5-2): Borjan; Johnston, Vitoria, Miller; Laryea (74’ Adekugbe), Hutchinson (58’ Koné), Eustaquio (81’ Millar), Davies; Buchanan (81’ Osorio), Hoilett (58’ Larin); David (Pantemis, St. Clair, Cornelius, Waterman, Piette, Fraser, Kaye, Wotherspoon, Ugbo, Cavallini) Coach: Herdman
REFEREE: Mr. Sikazwe (Zambia)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Carrasco, Meunier, Onana (B), Davies, Johnston (C); Added Time: 1st Half 5′, 2nd Half 5′
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