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Recap: Canada defeated by Belgium in group stage opener

Les Rouges lost 1-0 against the Red Devils on Wednesday evening in Al Rayyan.

Richie Laryea remains in possession of the ball while being marked by Belgium’s Yannick Carrasco.
(Mohammed Dabbous/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Canadian soccer fans should be proud of the performance their men’s national team put on today even though they were unable to come away with a point.

Contrary to the scoreline, statistics show that Canada had most of the opportunities with 22 shots overall but only three finding the target.

A nervy moment occurred in the first for the Canadians as Alistair Johnston’s pass was given away to striker Michy Batshuayi, his shot was deflected by defender Steven Vitória and collected by ‘keeper Milan Borjan.

The first noteworthy play of the match came in the 7th minute when defender Richie Laryea made one of his trademark runs down the right flank before the ball finds Tajon Buchanan, his pass into the box was going towards Jonathan David but went out for a corner. On the ensuing corner kick from Junior Hoilett, the cross found Buchanan and his deflected shot was saved by Belgium ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois. After a VAR check, Canada was awarded a penalty.

Alphonso Davies took the penalty kick, which Courtois saved.

In the 16th minute, a long pass from Johnston made its way to Hoilett but his left-footed shot went wide of the net.

Seven minutes later, Kamal Miller came up with a huge block on a shot by Batshuayi.

Four minutes after that defensive play, captain Atiba Hutchinson took a powerful shot that went wide of goal.

In the 30th minute, Johnston had Canada’s best opportunity from open play.

Batshuayi gave Belgium the lead in the 44th minute.

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez made two substitutions at halftime: Amadou Onana replaced Youri Tielemans, and Thomas Meunier came on for Yannick Carrasco.

Three minutes into the second half, Jonathan David came somewhat close to tying the match. Tremendous work by midfielder Stephen Eustáquio during the build-up play.

Laryea put in a formidable shift during the match on both ends of the pitch, including this block on Batshuayi.

Striker Cyle Larin was brought on just before the 60th minute, and his header was one of Canada’s last chances to tie the match.

Canada came very close to producing a respectable result against the second best ranked team in FIFA, but one chance made the difference.

Les Rouges’ second group stage match is against Croatia, the runners-up in the 2018 World Cup.

Kick-off is on Sunday, November 27th at 7pm local time (11AM EST) at Khalifa International Stadium.