Belgians escape major upset as Canada fail to make pressure tell in thrilling Group F encounter.
Belgium have weathered a Canadian storm in a thrilling Group F encounter to record a 1-0 victory, courtesy of Michy Batshuayi’s 44th-minute strike.
The European side, ranked the second-best in the world, struggled to match Canada’s intensity at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Wednesday night but will be thankful to have avoided a major upset by escaping with a win.
Canada will rue a litany of missed chances, including star player Alphonso Davies’s failure to convert a penalty after just 11 minutes.
Thibaut Courtois’s save denied the 22-year-old from scoring what would have been Canada’s first-ever World Cup goal. In their only other World Cup appearance in Mexico in 1986, Canada lost all three matches and failed to hit the back of the net once.
Undeterred by the early setback, the Canadian attack continued to press throughout the first 45 minutes, with their speed creating havoc in the Belgian defence and keeping Courtois busy.
But against the run of play, Belgium took the lead when Batshuayi broke between two defenders, ran on to a long ball and shot past goalkeeper Milan Borjan just before the break.
Batshuayi was only playing because of first-choice striker Romelu Lukaku’s injury, which could have him missing the entire group stage.