Belgium spoil Canada’s World Cup return behind Thibaut Courtois masterclass


A missed penalty and a first-half concession spoiled a statistically dominant performance by the Canadian men's national team, as Les Rouges fell 1-0 to Belgium in their Group F opener on Wednesday – the country's first World Cup appearance in 36 years.

Canada were all over Belgium throughout the first half at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar, earning a golden opportunity to take the lead just 10 minutes in; they won a penalty kick following Video Review for a handball on Belgium's Yannick Carrasco. But Alphonso Davies was thwarted from the spot by Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who dove to his right to deny the Bayern Munich star's spot-kick.

The missed opportunity ultimately haunted the Canadians, as Belgium jumped out in front just before halftime against the run of play. Michy Batshuayi notched the 44th-minute finish, getting on the end of a long-ball delivery from Toby Alderweireld and cashing a clinical strike past Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

That goal proved to be the game-winner, as Canada couldn't manage an equalizer and Belgium saw out the clean sheet via three saves from Courtois. Canada's closest chance to level came during an 80th-minute look from substitute Cyle Larin, whose header was saved by the reigning Yashin Trophy winner.

Michy Batshuayi


  • 44' - BEL - Michy Batshuayi | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: The Canadians did themselves proud in their first World Cup game since 1986, racking up 2.61 expected goals (per TruMedia) against one of the top teams in the world, and they arguably should have had at least one more penalty kick. But the end result is a gut punch, one that makes their path out of Group F increasingly tough before a huge matchup with 2018 finalists Croatia on Sunday, which might well determine their World Cup fate.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Courtois' early PK denial on Davies looms extra large given the 1-0 final scoreline which afforded Belgium the three points.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Courtois showed why he's one of the top goalkeepers in the world with his saves that keyed the clean sheet. The 6-foot-7 Real Madrid man is a legitimate force between the posts.

Next Up

  • CAN: Sunday, November 27 vs. Croatia | 11 am ET (FOX, Telemundo) | Group F
  • BEL: Sunday, November 27 vs. Morocco | 8 am ET (FOX, Telemundo) | Group F