Canada got off to a hot start, putting pressure on the Belgian defense with runs from behind and skillful passes around the box. Alphonso Davies had the early breakthrough at his feet as he went for penalties but his feeble attempt was easily saved by Thibault Courtois.
Despite the initial disappointment, Canada kept pushing and forcing Courtois to make more big saves. The Canadians will also feel disadvantaged as referee Janny Sikazwe ignored two more significant penalties.
Belgium caught the Canadian defense in their sleep in the closing minutes of the first half when centre-back Toby Alderweireld delivered a precise through ball down the path of striker Michy Batshuayi, who put the ball in and took the lead at half-time.
Canada continued to press in the second half, putting cross after cross into the box and looking for substitute Cyle Larin’s head. The few chances that did reach the net were easily stopped by Courtois as Canada never came close to the game at a goal apiece.
Belgium sat back for most of the second frame, absorbing the Canadian pressure and clearing the ball for a counterattack to their forwards. The Red Devils didn’t pose too much of a threat to Milan Borjan’s net, with Kamal Miller displaying a defensive masterwork to prevent his opponents from extending their lead.
Despite Canada’s best efforts, the referee blew the whistle after five minutes of added time and the boys in red and white lost their first game of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
After 36 years of waiting, Canada is finally back in the World Cup. Alphonso Davies and co faces a tough test in Qatar as they take on FIFA powerhouse Belgium at 2pm ET on Wednesday.
Canada looks overwhelmed on paper, but this World Cup has already brought a number of upsets, including Saudi Arabia beating Argentina and Japan returning to Germany. The Canadians have looked good throughout their qualifying run and have two stars capable of working magic in Davies and Jonathan David.
Here’s the line-up Canada set up at the start of the game:
John Herdman’s side got a little help on the scoreboard earlier Wednesday as Croatia and Morocco played a goalless draw, meaning neither team clinched the three points that come from a win.
Follow below for the latest updates, highlights and analysis as Canada tries to record the tournament’s latest shocking result.
Start time: 2:00 p.m. ET
TV channel: CTV and TSN
How to stream: TSN.approx
Canada will be thrown straight into the fire to start the 2022 World Cup and take on a Belgium squad with championship aspirations. Belgium finished third in 2018 and hope to take home the top prize this time as their aging star players reach the end of their international careers.
Canada have been drawn into Group F and there are no easy sides to beat. Canada’s opponents are second-placed Belgium, twelfth-placed Croatia and twenty-second-placed Morocco. Canada is currently ranked 41st, far from reaching the round of 16.
Davies is Canada’s top player and a legitimate superstar on the world stage. David is making his mark playing for Lille in France’s top flight. Other names that could be influential include Stephen Eustáquio, Tajon Buchanan and Cyle Larin.
You can find the full squad here.
More from Yahoo Sports