clearn.png
Friday December 2nd, 2022 7:09AM

Belgium spoils Canada's World Cup return with 1-0 win

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Kevin De Bruyne threw his hands up in disgust as another pass went astray. Eden Hazard was easily knocked off the ball. Michy Batshuayi was hauled off by his angry coach after a lazy flick to no one at all.

Belgium didn't live up to the hype of being the second-ranked team despite starting the World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Canada on Wednesday.

Thibaut Courtois saved an early penalty and Batshuayi scored the only goal at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium to spoil the North American team's return to the tournament after 36 years.

Aside from the result, there was little for the Belgians to celebrate, with De Bruyne — one of the world's best players — mocking the decision to name him player of the match.

“No, I don't think I played a great game,” a miserable-looking De Bruyne said after being told of his award. “I don’t know why I got the trophy — maybe it's because of my name.”

Belgium's aging team was outplayed at times by Canada, which has yet to collect a point or even score a goal in four World Cup matches — including the three games from its debut in 1986.

This should have been the game the Canadians broke that run. Alphonso Davies, the star of Canada’s team, squandered the best chance when his penalty was blocked by Courtois, one of 21 shots taken compared to Belgium's nine.

“They showed tonight they do belong here,” Canada coach John Herdman said of his players.

One moment of class in the 44th minute wound up deciding the game. It wasn't from one of De Bruyne's brilliant through-balls or Hazard's mazy dribbles, but instead a simple long ball over the top of Canada's defense by center back Toby Alderweireld.

It split the defense and Batshuayi ran through, letting the ball bounce twice before guiding a left-footed finish into the far corner.

“Delighted that, without being ourselves, we won the game,” Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said.

Martinez said it was his team's worst performance on a technical level since he took charge more than six years ago.

“But was it the worst game?” he added. “No. Because it’s a win.”

There were six players in their 30s in Belgium’s starting lineup, four of them having accrued more than 100 international appearances. Courtois and De Bruyne might reach three figures at this World Cup, in what looks like being a last hurrah for this group of players often described as a “golden generation.”

The absence of Romelu Lukaku — a prolific scorer and big presence up front — is a huge blow to Martinez, with Batshuayi failing to impress as his backup aside from his well-taken goal.

Lukaku, who has a left thigh injury, could potentially miss the entire group stage.

With De Bruyne's passing unusually poor, all the best moves came from a mobile and attacking Canada team in front of their loud, Maple Leaf-waving fans.

Davies stood out with his driving runs from left back but ruined his performance with his failure from the spot. Herdman had no complaints about Davies taking the kick, even though Jonathan David typically takes them for French club Lille.

“It’s a big moment for any player. You are carrying the weight of a nation,” Herdman said. “When you have an $85 million player, let him pick the ball up and take it.”

Canada had 14 shots in the first half alone, the most by a team at the World Cup without scoring in 16 years.

RECORD BREAKER

Canada captain Atiba Hutchinson, at the age of 39, became the oldest outfield player to start a World Cup match.

REF WATCH

The referee was Janny Sikazwe of Zambia, who made headlines at the African Cup of Nations in January by blowing to end a match after about 85 minutes. The match restarted and then ended again prior to the 90-minute mark. Sikazwe later said he had been suffering from heat stroke. In the Belgium-Canada game, he played five minutes of stoppage time in each half.

UP NEXT

Belgium takes on Morocco on Sunday. Canada meets Croatia on the same day.

___

AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

___

Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Belgium spoils Canada's World Cup return with 1-0 win
Thibaut Courtois saved an early penalty and Michy Batshuayi scored the lone goal to give Belgium a 1-0 win over Canada at the World Cup to spoil the North American team's return to the tournament after 36 years
3:59PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Seven Michigan St football players charged in tunnel melee
Charges have been filed against seven Michigan State football players stemming from a melee in Michigan Stadium’s tunnel last month
3:44PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Witness: shooter at gay club showed 'no hesitation'
A witness to a shooting at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub says the suspect showed “no hesitation” when entering Club Q and opening fire
3:42PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Jets bench Zach Wilson, Mike White to start vs. Bears
Zach Wilson has been benched by the New York Jets
2:13PM ( 1 hour ago )
Rivalry week should bring SEC bowl forecast into clear focus
It’s rivalry week for most of the Southeastern Conference
1:11PM ( 2 hours ago )
World Cup Viewer's Guide: Ronaldo and Neymar seek history
Two of the best players in soccer start World Cup competition Thursday as Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar both seek history in Qatar
12:21PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Sports
Seven Michigan St football players charged in tunnel melee
Charges have been filed against seven Michigan State football players stemming from a melee in Michigan Stadium’s tunnel last month
3:44PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Witness: shooter at gay club showed 'no hesitation'
A witness to a shooting at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub says the suspect showed “no hesitation” when entering Club Q and opening fire
3:42PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Colorado gay club shooting suspect held without bail
The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub has been ordered held without bail in an initial court appearance
3:39PM ( 30 minutes ago )
No. 3 Kansas beats NC State in coach Bill Self's return
First-year guard Gradey Dick scored a season-high 25 points to help No. 3 Kansas beat North Carolina State 80-74 in the Battle 4 Atlantis opener
3:34PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Oregon public defender shortage: nearly 300 cases dismissed
Courts in Oregon's Multnomah County, home to Portland, have dismissed nearly 300 cases this year, including felonies, due to a shortage of public defenders
3:15PM ( 54 minutes ago )