Belgium, coldly realistic and saved by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, won a laborious victory (1-0) against an impetuous but clumsy Canada, thus taking the lead in group F of this 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The meeting was indeed largely dominated by the “Canucks” who could have led to the score in the 11th minute if Alphonso Davies had better taken a penalty following a hand fault by Yannick Carrasco.
Court the savior
Courtois, winner of the Yachine Trophy for the best goalkeeper in October, then perfectly justified his status by folding quickly on the strike of the Bayern Munich player.
It’s hard to believe that the 40,432 spectators at the Ahmed bin Ali stadium attended a match between the second nation in the FIFA rankings, third in the 2018 World Cup, and an inexperienced team, only 41st in the world…
But in the end, the result allows Eden Hazard and his teammates to take the lead in Group F alone, after the draw earlier in the day between Morocco and the Croatian vice-world champions (0-0). The Real Madrid goalkeeper was the best Belgian, intervening a few times (8th, 16th, 52nd, 82nd) and showing very good footwork.
Goal by Batshuayi
And if Belgium could have considered themselves lucky not to be behind, they did even better by opening the scoring before returning to the locker room. Aligned at the forefront to make up for the absence of Romelu Lukaku (recovering from a thigh injury), Michy Batshuayi scored his 27th goal for the national team (49 caps), perfectly launched in the middle by a long ball from Toby Alderweireld (44th).
This goal could have knocked out Atiba Hutchison and his teammates. But, even logically blunted by their excess of energy of the first 45 minutes, the North Americans continued to pose problems for their opponents.
The Belgian defense has often had its feet full, only relieved by the technical inaccuracies of Canadians in the last gesture.
“We are less strong than in 2018,” Eden Hazard had warned before the meeting. His opinion will probably not have changed at the end of this first meeting.