This result places the Belgians at the top of Pool F, two points ahead of Croatia and Morocco. The latter two played 0-0 earlier in the day.
Against the run of play, Belgium took the lead shortly before the break. After long stretches of unmotivated foot football, Toby Alderweireld decided to drive the ball 70 yards into the pitch. It ended with Batshuayi, who, surrounded by two opponents, hammered 1-0 from the spot.
The score capped what had been a dreadful Belgian half. The 2018 World Cup bronze winners struggled with poor coordination and a lot of stagnant play. In addition, the team often cracked defensively, and sometimes every attack from Canada was dangerous.
The energetic North Americans have made life miserable in Belgium. After eight minutes, they claimed a handball penalty and were overheard when the referee saw the situation in replay on the VAR monitor. The images showed how Yannick Carrasco with his arm blocked a finish with a good direction towards the goal.
Alphonso Davies waited a long time before he could take the penalty. The kick wasn’t good, and Thibaut Courtois sent the ball into the box. The return ball was blown high above the goal.
A clearly disappointed Davies buried his face in his hands. After eleven minutes, he could have become Canada’s first-ever World Cup scorer. In the 1986 play-offs, the nation was eliminated in pool after three defeats and 0-5 by scoring goals.
As a preview, Belgium showed their attacking qualities at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, but in general it was very sloppy.
In the first half, Kevin De Bruyne was so upset that he gave a reprimanding sermon several times. The playmaker was frustrated that there was hardly any play in Canada’s half.
Minutes before Batshuayi’s goal, VAR extensively checked a situation where Axel Witsel fouled Richie Laryea. There were no penalties and Belgium breathed a sigh of relief.
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