Belgium 1-0 Canada: Michy Batshuayi gives nervy Red Devils winning start after Davies penalty saved


Michy Batshuayi scored the only goal as Belgium scraped past a spirited Canada 1-0 in their 2022 World Cup opener at the Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium.

Batshuayi’s 44th-minute strike, leading in the absence of Romelu Lukaku, was enough to settle the nervy Group F clash in favor of the Red Devils.

Roberto Martinez’s side were grateful to Thibaut Courtois for saving Alphonso Davies’ early penalty as they generally struggled as the nation ended their 36-year absence from finals.

Still, Belgium stretched their winning streak in the group stage to eight matches, with no team enjoying a longer run in the competition’s history (tied with Brazil).

Belgium endured a shaky start against the Canucks, who were awarded a penalty when VAR ruled Yannick Carrasco handled Tajon Buchanan’s shot into the box, but Courtois made the right call to keep out Davies’ tame kick by diving to his right.

John Herdman, the first coach to lead the nation to both the Women’s and Men’s World Cups, saw his side continue to carry a greater attacking threat. Alistair Johnston stung Courtois’ palms with a fierce strike, while Buchanan and Atiba Hutchinson were off target.

But Belgium took the lead against the run of play just before half-time; Batshuayi latched on to Toby Alderweireld’s long ball before firing past Milan Borjan.

Michy Batshuayi, Timothy Castagne
Batshuayi made the difference for Belgium. / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Despite keeping the ball on the edge, Belgium continued to police their game, registering just one shot on target after the break.

Canada looked to capitalize on the performance of top scorer Cyle Larin, whose header called Courtois into action with 10 minutes remaining, but could not find an equalizer as their opponents held on for a narrow victory.

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