Tuesday, 06 Dec 2022

Belgium run ragged by Canada but Michy Batshuayi goal earns them win

Belgium run ragged by Canada but Michy Batshuayi goal earns them win


Belgium run ragged by Canada but Michy Batshuayi goal earns them win

Belgium began the World Cup in a trance. They looked dazed, bewildered and alarmingly pedestrian in comparison to opponents who were a blur of energy and incisive movement in their all-white kit. Canada had qualified for their first World Cup since 1986 and only the second in their history with a brave approach built on pace and a high press.

They made no concessions on style against the team ranked second in the world and their boldness should have brought a tangible reward long before Batshuayi opened the scoring, completely against the run of play. But for greater conviction from the penalty spot, and more accuracy with the final ball or shot at the end of several enterprising moves, Canada would have established a comfortable and richly deserved interval lead.

But then, a minute before the break, Canada were undone by a searching ball out of defence from Alderweireld. The pass sent Batshuayi sprinting through a gap between Miller and Laryea and he swept a fine first-time finish past the exposed Milan Borjan. With Romelu Lukaku expected to miss at least the opening two games of the World Cup as he recovers from a hamstring injury, Belgium need the former Chelsea forward to be on clinical form.

Martínez also requires a vastly improved collective display from this offering. Buchanan should have equalised in first-half stoppage time when Laryea again broke clear down the right and crossed invitingly to the near post. The midfielder, at full stretch but ahead of his marker, skied over from six yards out.

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