Canada has been savaged by football fans on social media after a bizarre penalty decision brutally backfired in their opening World Cup Group F game against Belgium in Qatar. Michy Batshuayi's first-half goal proved the difference in a 1-0 win for a Belgium side that were below par against the Canadians.
However, things could have been so much different for a Canada team chasing the country's first ever win at a World Cup, had they converted an 11th minute penalty. Canada won a corner after Striker Jonathan David's low effort was deflected wide, before being awarded a spot kick when Tajon Buchanan's strike was blocked inside the box by the arm of Yannick Carrasco.
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Following appeals from Canada's players and a check from VAR, the penalty was eventually awarded as Bayern Munich left back Alphonso Davies stepped up to take the spot kick - to the shock of many onlookers. Unfortunately, the defender's tame effort was saved low to his right by Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois, before David lashed the rebound over the crossbar.
It was a brutal moment for Canada as Davies squandered the best chance to score his country's first ever goal at a FIFA World Cup, having ended their 36-year drought by qualifying for Qatar. The decision by Canada to hand Davies penalty duties - given Lille striker David was on the pitch - was crucified by football fans on social media, many of whom labelled it a 'ridiculous' move.
SAVED! Thibaut Courtois denies Alphonso Davies from the spot!
Watch Belgium v Canada at the #FIFAWorldCup from Qatar LIVE right now on @SBS and @SBSOnDemand! 🇧🇪 🇨🇦
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— SBS Sport (@SBSSportau) November 23, 2022
"There is no way that I'm letting a left back take the penalty!"@liannesanderson is convinced that Jonathan David should have stepped up for 🇨🇦 to take the penalty over Alphonso Davies.#FIFAWorldCup #Qatar2022 pic.twitter.com/krkPzBSDtb
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) November 23, 2022
Why would you have your left back take the penalty?
— Wanga Wanga Eh Eh (@WangaVision) November 23, 2022
WHY DIDNT OUR STRIKER TAKE THE PENALTY?????? PHONZIE PLAYS LEFT BACK FFS MAN https://t.co/fR2mjWTkNs
— Darius (Taylor’s Version) 🗯🎄 (@dmcmackay) November 23, 2022
That’s what you get letting a left back take a penalty
— 🅱️ave (@Bavew97) November 23, 2022
Terrible penalty to be honest. Left back taking pens is ridiculous imo
— My Friends Call Me Mat (@I_Matrix92) November 23, 2022
Why is the guy who plays Left Back for his club Alphonso Davis taking a penalty instead of the guy who plays Striker in the Ligue 1 Jonathan David?
— snoted🧑🏿💻 (@snotteds) November 23, 2022
Don’t care if he’s the best left back in the world.. he shouldn’t be ya penalty taker 😭
— LEWIS WXT 🇰🇳 (@WXTLewis) November 23, 2022
Belgium's ageing defence were struggling with the pace of the Canada attackers and Junior Hoilett got in behind before firing a shot wide. Canada also saw another opportunity go begging when Courtois palmed away right wing-back Alistair Johnston's fierce drive and David headed off target.
Michy Batshuayi goal wins it for Belgium
The Canadians then had a big penalty appeal turned down despite a VAR review when Axel Witsel was outpaced by Richie Laryea inside the area and appeared to trip his opponent. Batshuayi compounded the first half misery for Canada after opening the scoring for Belgium against the the run of play in the 44th minute.
Belgium's lead came out of nothing after a simple long ball was sent over the top by Toby Alderweireld, finding the run of Batshuayi who lashed the ball into the back of the net with a fierce left-footed strike.
There was still time for Canada to create, and waste, another glorious opportunity before the break, as Laryea's low cross was fired over on the slide by Buchanan from six yards out.
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez made a double substitution at halftime to try and arrest Canada's momentum, with Thomas Meunier replacing Carrasco and Everton youngster Amadou Onana coming into the midfield.
Canada could have levelled just minutes after the restart, however, as David headed wide from Stephen Eustaquio's inviting cross after the Porto midfielder had nutmegged Kevin De Bruyne.
Herdman's men continued to flood forward, but could not find the finishing touch required, with Buchanan miskicking horribly from the edge of the box. The more men Canada committed, the more dangerous Belgium looked on the break and Laryea made a wonderful last-ditch tackle to deny Batshuayi a second goal.
Substitute Cyle Larin, the top scorer in CONCACAF qualifying for the tournament, headed too close to Courtois in a frantic finale. De Bruyne could have put the game to bed but blazed into the crowd, while Larin sent another header spinning over Courtois' bar as Belgium fell over the line.
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