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Roberto Martinez, John Herdman react as Belgium edge out Canada at World Cup

Roberto Martinez, John Herdman react as Belgium edge out Canada at World Cup

Roberto Martinez has suggested that he took satisfaction from the manner of Belgium‘s 1-0 victory over Canada in the World Cup.

Despite heading into the fixture in Al Rayyan as the clear favourites to prevail, the world’s second-best team, according to the FIFA World Rankings, were outplayed and outfought for long periods by their North American opponents.

However, the big moments of the game went the way of the Red Devils, Canada initially missing a chance to go ahead during the early stages when Alphonso Davies saw a penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois.

Although Canada dominated the remainder of the first half, Michy Batshuayi was still able to score the only goal of the game with a smart finish after latching onto a long ball.

Michy Batshuayi scoring for Belgium against Canada at the World Cup on November 23, 2022.© Reuters

While the Maple Leafs were less effective after the break, they will feel frustrated that their performance did not reap the rewards that it deserved.

Speaking after the Group F encounter, Martinez indicated that he took the positives from his players still delivering a result when they were considerably below par.

The Spaniard told 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.”

Opposite number Herdman naturally had mixed emotions about the occasion, acknowledging that he had been left “proud” but deemed his side’s efforts to be a missed opportunity.

Canada boss John Herdman during World Cup fixture against Belgium on November 23, 2022.© Reuters

Talking to the same channel, Herdman said: “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.”

In the other Group F fixture on Wednesday, Croatia and Morocco played out a goalless draw, meaning that Belgium sit top and Canada are bottom.

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