Michy Batshuayi’s first-half goal proved enough for a below-par Belgium to squeeze to a 1-0 win over Canada side playing their first World Cup match for 36 years on Wednesday.
Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saved Alphonso Davies’ early penalty and Batshuayi opened the scoring against the run of play in the 44th minute.
John Herdman’s Canada, roared on by their vocal support, also had another strong penalty appeal turned down and dominated the second half to no avail.
Belgium were without injured record goalscorer Romelu Lukaku and struggled throughout with the pace of Canada’s forwards.
But the 2018 semi-finalists clung on to move top of what could prove a hotly-contested Group F after Croatia and Morocco’s goalless draw earlier on Wednesday.
Canada will head into their game against Croatia on Sunday still full of confidence after more than matching the team ranked second in the world, who next face Morocco.
The North Americans, matching Belgium in formation by playing three at the back, made a bright start and Jonathan David’s low effort was deflected wide. Read more