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Qatar 2022: Belgium's Red Devil's spoil Canada's World Cup return

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By Euronews  with AP, Reuters
Belgium's Michy Batshuayi celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup group F soccer match between Belgium and Canada
Belgium's Michy Batshuayi celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup group F soccer match between Belgium and Canada   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

Belgium 1-0 Canada

Hassan Ammar/AP
Canada's Atiba Hutchinson, right, and Canada's Stephen Eustaquio, left, challenge for the ball with Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne, centre, during the World Cup group F soccer matcHassan Ammar/AP

Thibaut Courtois saved an early penalty and Michy Batshuayi scored the only goal to give Belgium a 1-0 win over Canada at the World Cup on Wednesday, spoiling the North American team's return to the tournament after 36 years.

The Canadians have yet to collect a point or even score a goal in four World Cup matches, which includes the three games from their debut in 1986.

Still, they outplayed second-ranked Belgium at times at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, with Alphonso Davies -- the star of Canada’s team -- squandering the best chance when his penalty was blocked by Courtois.

With Eden Hazard ineffective and Kevin De Bruyne’s passing unusually awry, Belgium often relied on the long ball from the back and that tactic led to the 44th-minute goal. Center back Toby Alderweireld split the defense with his pass and Batshuayi ran through to guide a left-footed finish into the far corner.

Batshuayi was only playing because first-choice striker Romelu Lukaku was injured and could potentially miss the entire group stage.

Canada had 21 shots compared to the nine of Belgium, whose well-established team filled with veterans was far from convincing.

The absence of Lukaku — a prolific scorer and big presence up front — is a huge blow to coach Roberto Martinez, with Batshuayi failing to impress aside from his well-taken goal.

Indeed, all the best moves came from a mobile and attacking Canada team in front of their loud, Maple Leaf-waving fans.

Canada had 14 shots in the first half alone, the most by a team at the World Cup without scoring in 16 years.

Belgium is currently second in FIFA's rankings, while Canada is ranked 41st.

Spain 7-0 Costa Rica

Frank Augstein/AP
Spain's Ferran Torres, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's third goal during the World Cup group E soccer match between Spain and Costa RicaFrank Augstein/AP

Spain’s young squad got off to a high-scoring start at the World Cup, routing Costa Rica 7-0 on Wednesday. The Spaniards avoided any chance of an upset with Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio and Ferran Torres scoring a goal each in the first 31 minutes. Torres, Gavi, Carlos Soler and Álvaro Morata added to the lead in the second half.

Olmo’s goal was the 100th at World Cups for Spain, which became the sixth nation to score more than 100 times in the tournament.

It was the first time Spain has scored seven goals in a World Cup match.

With 18-year-old Gavi and 19-year-old Pedri starting, Spain also became the first European nation with two teenagers in the starting lineup of a World Cup match in 60 years, according to statistics platform Opta.

Gavi then became the youngest goal scorer at the World Cup since Pelé in the 1958 final, also according to Opta.

Costa Rica looked overwhelmed from the start in its third straight World Cup campaign. It came to Qatar hoping to repeat its surprise run to the quarterfinals in 2014 in Brazil, and avoid a repeat of its participation four years ago in Russia, when it was eliminated in the group stage after not winning any matches.

Spain, which didn’t get past the round of 16 in Russia, is trying to break through with a major title after making it to the final of the Nations League and the semifinals of last year's European Championship. This year the team also qualified for the Final Four of the Nations League for a second straight time. Spain's last major triumph came at Euro 2012, two years after it won its lone World Cup title in South Africa.

Only five countries have scored more goals than Spain at the World Cup -- Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Italy and France.

Morocco 0-0 Croatia

Credit: AP
Croatia's Dejan Lovren, left, vies for the ball with Morocco's Abderrazak HamdallahCredit: AP
  • Morocco held 2018 finalists Croatia to a 0-0 draw in Wednesday's first game
  • The Croats had the better of the chances, with Dejan Lovren having an effort cleared off the line and Nikola Vlasic's close shot saved by the legs of Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
  • Morocco striker Youssef En-Nesryi might have given the north Africans an early lead but was unable to get a decent touch onto Hakim Ziyech's dangerous cross. 
  • In the second half, Achraf Hakimi's powerful free kick was parried by Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.

Germany 1-2 Japan

Matthias Schrader/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
Germany's head coach Hansi Flick, right, talks to goalkeeper Manuel Neuer during a training session. 21 November 2022.Matthias Schrader/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
  • Japan score twice in the last 15 minutes to stun four-time World Cup winners Germany.
  • Goals from Doan and Asano secure a shock 2-1 victory. 
  • Gundogan opened the scoring for Germany with a 33rd-minute penalty. 
  • Both sides had goals ruled out for offside.
  • Before kick-off, German players posed with their hands of their mouths in an apparent protest at FIFA over the "OneLove" armbands.