Belgium faces Canada, Japan stuns Germany, Spain beats Costa Rica

Michy Batshuayi scored in the first half and Thibaut Courtois saved a penalty as Belgium opened their World Cup campaign with a sloppy 1-0 victory over an energetic Canada who were back in the final for the first time in 36 years.

Batshuayi led the Belgium attack in the absence of injured talisman Romelu Lukaku, scoring on the stroke of half-time to put the Red Devils at the top of Group F over Morocco and Croatia, who previously drew 0-0.

Belgian star Kevin De Bruyne.

Belgian star Kevin De Bruyne.Credit:Getty

In their only other World Cup appearance in Mexico in 1986, Canada lost all three games and failed to score a goal.

They looked as if they were going to score their highly anticipated first goal as Belgium’s Yannick Carrasco handled the ball in the 11th minute and Alphonso Davies stepped forward to take the penalty as the Canadian supporters roared.

But Courtois, one of the world’s best goalkeepers, denied Davies a historic score by saving his feeble penalty kick.

The Canadian attack kept pushing, their speed wreaking havoc in the Belgian defense and keeping Courtois busy throughout the first half.

But against the odds, Belgium took the lead as Batshuayi broke between two defenders in the 44th minute, ran to a long ball and blasted past goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Canadian coach John Herdman said his men would bring nothing to lose in their opening game against the second-tier Belgians who arrived in Qatar burdened with the burden of anticipation.

Reuters

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