Belgium went top of Group F of the World Cup after a narrow 1-0 victory against Canada. The underdogs had plenty of chances to take something away from the match, but failed to score their first ever World Cup goal.
Canada entered the match ranked 41st in the FIFA rankings and had not played in the World Cup since 1986. However, the Reds did finish top of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying group. Belgium, on the other hand, are currently ranked second in the world by FIFA and are one of the tournament favorites.
First half featured two massive VAR decisions
The Canadians had a massive chance to take an early lead in the eighth minute of the match on Wednesday. A VAR review determined that Yannick Carrasco handled the ball inside the Belgium penalty box. Replays showed the midfielder stuck out his arm and unfairly blocked a Canadian shot.
However, Alphonso Davies failed to convert the big opportunity. The Bayern Munich star put in a fairly tame shot towards Belgium’s goal. Thibaut Courtois was able to get down quickly and make the easy save. It was the first time since 1966 that a Belgium goalkeeper saved a penalty at the World Cup.
Canada should have received another penalty in the half. The Reds were flagged for offside despite replays showing that a Belgium player actually passed the ball. Seconds later a Canadian player was brought down in the opposing penalty box. Nevertheless, the referee went with the original incorrect offside decision.
Belgium find breakthrough after Canada domination
Michy Batshauyi was, however, able to put Belgium in front before the halftime whistle. The center forward was at the receiving end of a long ball over the top by Toby Alderweireld. After a nice run by the striker, Bathshauyi placed a perfect shot past the diving Milan Borjan.
The goal occurred against the run of play. Canada was the better team for most of the first half. In fact, despite having 44% of possession in the opening period, Canada had 14 total shots. Compare this to Belgium’s four shots during the same timeframe, and many consider Belgium fortunate to be ahead.
While the first 45 minutes featured plenty of talking points, the final period was fairly straightforward. Canada continued to play well, but failed to capitalize on their opportunities. In the end, Canada outshot Belgium 21 to seven. However, Belgium won on the scoreboard to get the three points.
The victory puts Belgium at the top of the group following a 0-0 draw between Croatia and Morocco. Canada are currently bottom of the group, but should receive a boost after a solid display against one of the tournament favorites.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Belga