WC: Batshuayi helps Belgium defeat Canada

Michy Batshuayi struck a first-half goal as Belgium opened their FIFA World Cup campaign with a 1-0 victory over Canada here late on Wednesday.The 29-year-old Fenerbahce striker gave the European side the lead on the stroke of halftime when he thumped a first-time effort into the far corner following a counterattack.Canada were denied an early lead by Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who dived low to his right to keep out an Alphonso Davies’ penalty, reports Xinhua.The result extended Belgium’s unbeaten record in the World Cup group stage to 13 matches, a run that dates back to 1998.Canada, playing on football’s biggest stage for the first time since 1986, continue their search for a first World Cup goal. On Wednesday’s form, they will be odds-on to break their duck against Croatia or Morocco in their remaining group matches.Canada took the initiative from outset at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Doha, rushing forward in numbers and unsettling a Belgium defense that was repeatedly caught off guard.The North American side appeared set to take the lead in the 10th minute when referee Janny Sikazwe awarded a penalty for a Yannick Carrasco handball. But Courtois was equal to the task, comfortably saving Davies’ resultant spot-kick.Belgium’s defence was under siege and Courtois again came to the rescue by denying Richie Laryea with his right leg after another threatening Canada foray.