By Neil Davidson in Al Rayyan
Canada put on a show in its return to the World Cup after a 36-year absence but failed to convert its chances in a valiant 1-0 loss to Belgium on Wednesday.
The 41st-ranked Canadians looked anything but awed at the occasion, repeatedly forcing the second-ranked Belgians onto the back foot.
And Canada had a glorious chance to score its first-ever World Cup goal and take the lead in the 10th minute, only to see Thibaut Courtois, the Inspector Gadget-like Belgian goalkeeper, stop Alphonso Davies’ penalty attempt after Yannick Carrasco was yellow-carded for handball. The 22-year-old from Edmonton clutched his face in disappointment.
The pace and press of the Canadians caused the Belgians real discomfort in a first half that saw the Canadians launch 14 shots — the most without scoring in the first half of a World Cup match since England (17) against Trinidad and Tobago in 2006, according to sports analytics company Opta.
Most of Canada’s efforts were off-target. Belgium attempted four shots and made one count late in the half.
Michy Batshuayi quietened the pro-Canada crowd in the 44th minute, bringing down a well-flighted long ball from defender Toby Alderweireld that Canadian Steven Vitoria just missed getting his foot to. Batshuayi outpaced the chasing Kamal Miller and Richie Laryea and calmly beat Milan Borjan for a 1-0 lead.
Borjan punched the ball away in disgust.
Canada next faces Croatia on Sunday.
The Simcoe County Rovers are hosting a watch party for the game at the Canadian Brewhouse – starts at 10:30 a.m.
The team will be raffling official Canada Soccer and Rovers merchandise, a Heineken prize pack, and game tickets.
Learn More About The Viewing Party On Our Latest Episode of “What Barrie’s Talking About”
– With files from Barrie 360
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2022.
Banner image via The Canadian Press