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'We are proud of what they did': Canada's efforts make an impression at World Cup

But whether it was an English, American, Belgian or Spanish journalist, the subject was consistent: this Canadian squad not only belongs on the World Cup stage, it can hang with the elite.
cylelarin
Canada's Cyle Larin reacts after failing to score during the World Cup group F soccer match between Belgium and Canada, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has been dominated by upsets over the past two days of action.

On Tuesday, Nov. 22, Saudi Arabia was the talk of the town after upsetting Argentina. Japan's stunning 2-1 win over Germany was the hot topic on Wednesday afternoon.

But the day was ultimately dominated by the Canadian men's national team and its emphatic performance, albeit in a 1-0 loss to Belgium.

Michy Batshuayi's 44th-minute goal, a devastating blow to a team that ultimately dominated a match against the No. 2-ranked side in the FIFA rankings, seemed like a cruel joke.

But whether it was an English, American, Belgian or Spanish journalist, the subject was consistent: this Canadian squad not only belongs on the World Cup stage, it can hang with the elite.

"We came into our game with a couple of goals," said Canada coach John Herdman in his post-match press conference. "The first goal was to play fearlessly and the second goal was to entertain. We had some other goals which were to create some firsts, but we weren't quite up to those moments."

Canada outshot Belgium 22-9, recorded 1.82 non-penalty expected goals (xG) to 0.76 for Belgium. To add insult to injury, Jonathan David (seven shots) had two fewer attempts than the entire Belgian squad on the night.

One of the 22 shots was an early penalty from Alphonso Davies, after VAR adjudged Yannick Carrasco to have handled a Tajon Buchanan shot in the box.

The decision raised a few eyebrows, seeing as how David is a designated penalty taker for Lille and Davies seldom shoots from the spot, but it's been the protocol for Canada for months.

"The [players] sorted that out," Herdman explained. "When you've got an $85-million player, and a player with that sort of confidence and swagger, pick up the ball and take it."

Unfortunately for Davies and Canada, Thibaut Courtois dropped quickly and parried the shot away, keeping the match scoreless.

Batshuayi eventually capitalized on a ball over the top from Toby Alderweireld that has long troubled the Canadian defence.

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