Belgium squeeze a narrow win despite a high-tempo Canadian display

The world’s number two team finished 1-0 in a less than convincing game courtesy of a goal from Batshuayi

The Belgians were without their talisman Romelu Lukaku as they looked to make a statement but it was the Canadians with their pacy wingers who played better for most of the game. The Belgians showed their age by dragging across the field with little spark. They had five starters over 30 years old, while the Canadians were led by 22-year-old duo Davies and David.

The first chance came in the form of a penalty early in the game as a corner landed to Buchanan, whose side half-volley deflects upward and is snared by Courtois but VAR showed that Carrasco had his arm out. The opportunity was no use though, as Davies shot a rather weak penalty that Courtois saved easily. There were two more handballs in the first half that could have gone for Canada but both were ruled out because the ball wasn’t in an unnatural position.

Courtois was asked to make another couple of saves before half time including when Johnston got into the box with the ball. He fell. No call, probably reasonably so. But the ball comes back to him, and his shot stings Courtois’ gloves. Buchanan would also try his luck a bit later with no avail.

But against the run of play and the closing minutes of the first half, a direct ball, maybe 60 yards in the air straight up the field from Toby Alderweireld, lands at the feet of Michy Batshuayi, whose first touch was a fine finish.

The second half was also a string of more chances for the Canadians that Courtois superbly denied. It started with a chance from a long cross by the superb Eustáquio that David just puts wide.

Courtois was also asked to produce double saves with his leg a bit later but quickly after the Belgians started coming more alive. A terrific chance for Belgians by Batshuayi got blocked twice.

In the closing minutes, Canada got back to their pressing best ultimately requiring Courtois to make yet another save. A cross from Johnston is right on Larin’s head, and the striker redirects it to the far post, only to see the outstanding Belgian keeper leap to his right and snare it with both hands. Two more chances from Larin and Davies would be saved by the defense as well.

In the end, Canada outshot Belgium 21 to 7 and all of those missed chances would haunt them as the Canadians should have clearly sealed the match.

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