Fifa World Cup: Belgium hold on to beat Canada 1-0
Belgium have Canada’s poor finishing to thank for the fact they avoided the fate of Argentina and Germany in falling victim to a World Cup shock.
Belgium still have glorious talent in the shape of Kevin de Bruyne and a world-class keeper in Thibaut Courtois but they looked ragged, jaded and desperately vulnerable to the pace and energy of Canada’s attacking play.
he defensive duo of Alderweireld, 33, and 35-year-old Jan Vertonghen have served country and clubs outstandingly well, but there was an air of desperation about some of their play as Canada, in the first half particularly, dragged Belgium to all parts.
Belgium can clearly perform much better than this and have main striker Romelu Lukaku to return up front but this was a tired-looking effort.
“Canada deserved to be better than us in the way they played. I think the result reflects the things that we had to do and the way we defended for each other and took our chance.
“It’s a win and we need to play better and to grow. We’ve been here five days, we have to grow with these games. Many top teams are losing games.
“This tournament is going to make you develop and grow as the tournament goes on. If you do that by winning games, it’s an incredible advantage.
“Today we didn’t win by our normal talent and quality on the ball, but you don’t win in the World Cup if you don’t do the other side of the game.
“We need to be realistic, we need to play well but when a team can win without playing well, it’s a lot to build on.”
‘The lads showed they can live on this stage’
Canada manager John Herdman, speaking to BBC One: “I’m proud of the performance but you need to take three points in your first game. We had an opportunity to be top of the group tonight – that was the mission and we missed it, but I’m proud of the performance.
“These lads put a shift in, they showed that they can live on this stage. They made the fans proud and made them feel like they belong here and that was important for us. I showed them the stats and showed them that they belong here.
“Croatia is our next mission. I lost my first game at the London 2012 Olympics and then we went on to win our first medal in 86 years so it’s how we respond now. With that belief and keeping the brotherhood tight, we’ve got a chance.”
‘A lot to build on’
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, speaking on BBC One: “Today was such a difficult game, Canada were better than us in what we wanted to do. They came to the tournament with an incredible celebration, great emotion, what we expected. This Canada team has a lot of pace and directness.
“To be fair, we had to show another side of our play. I’m delighted because we won the game through grit and experience, through the quality of our goalkeeper who kept us in the game by saving the penalty, many elements. The victory today is more important than when you play well.”
This article was reported by BBC.com