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

Belgium defeated Canada 1-0 in their 2022 World Cup opening match at the Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium thanks to a goal by Michy Batshuayi.

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

Despite having a rocky start to their World Cup campaign, Belgium beat Canada in Group F and came away with all three points thanks to Michy Batshuayi.

Belgium defeated Canada 1-0 in their 2022 World Cup opening match at the Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium thanks to a goal by Michy Batshuayi.

Batshuayi led the line in Romelu Lukaku's absence, scoring in the 44th minute to settle a tense Group F match in the Red Devils' favour.

Thibaut Courtois saved an early Alphonso Davies penalty for Roberto Martinez's team, who otherwise struggled against the nation ending their 36-year finals drought.

However, Belgium increased their eight-match winning streak during the group stage, which is the longest streak in the history of the competition (level with Brazil).

Against the Canucks, Belgium had a rough start and was given a penalty when VAR ruled in their favour. Tajon Buchanan's shot inside the box was handled by Yannick Carrasco, but Courtois correctly anticipated Davies' soft penalty kick and dove to his right to stop it.

John Herdman, the first coach to lead a country to both the men's and women's World Cups, saw his team continue to provide the larger offensive threat. Atiba Hutchinson and Buchanan both missed their targets, while Alistair Johnston delivered a vicious blow that burned Courtois' palms.

But just before halftime, Belgium unexpectedly took the lead. Batshuayi grabbed Toby Alderweireld's long pass and fired past Milan Borjan.

Despite having the advantage in possession, Belgium continued to play poorly after the break, managing just one shot on goal.

With 10 minutes left, top scorer Cyle Larin was introduced, and his header forced Courtois into action. However, Canada was unable to equalize, and its opponents held on for a narrow victory.

Why does that matter? Belgium battled a determined Canada

Belgium, despite not playing at their best, moved to the top of Group F after Croatia's earlier goalless draw with Morocco.

Despite losing, it was a historic day for Canada because they made it back to the finals after a 36-year absence and were unlucky not to break their penalty-saving streak after Davies' save.

At 39 years and 288 days old, captain Hutchinson made World Cup history as the oldest outfield starter.

Batshuayi steps up

With Lukaku's return date uncertain, Batshuayi stepped up to the plate with his 27th international goal in 49 caps – moving him joint-sixth with Joseph Mermans on his country's all-time list.

The Fenerbahce forward's well-taken strike came from one of five shots on goal – a tally only bettered on the night by Canada's Jonathan David (six)

History for Courtois

No player has appeared more times for Belgium at a major tournament than Courtois (23, level with Jan Ceulemans).

The Real Madrid goalkeeper also edged closer to becoming the Red Devils' seventh centurion by earning his 98th cap, and he celebrated the milestone with a clean sheet, as well as superb reflexes to deny Davies from the spot.

What's next?

Both sides are back in Group F action on Sunday. Belgium will look to produce an improved performance against Morocco, while Canada cannot afford another defeat against 2018 finalists Croatia.

Chima Ugo is a patriotic Nigerian, journalist and blogger who is so much interested in the internet, journalism, and blogging.