Belgium vs Canada LIVE: World Cup 2022 result, final score and reaction after Michy Batshuayi hits winner

Belgium’s World Cup 2022 campaign kicks off with a Group F clash against Canada this evening as manager Roberto Martinez looks to lead his side further than their third place finish in Russia four years ago. This tournament may represent a final chance for Belgium’s golden generation to lift a major trophy as the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, and Romelu Lukaku are all included in the squad.

The Red Devils are heavy favourites to progress out of the group which also features Morocco and Croatia – who played out a goalless draw this morning – and they will want to start with a win over surprising qualifiers Canada tonight.

Canada make their first appearance at a World Cup since 1986 following a brilliant qualifying campaign under manager John Herdman but are huge underdogs in Qatar. They topped the table in Concacaf qualifying, ahead of Mexico and USA, with Cyle Larin scoring 13 goals throughout the campaign finishing as the top scorer.

Belgium, ranked second in the world, also have some injury concerns. Lukaku is out due to a thigh injury and Thomas Meunier has also missed out due to a broken cheekbone - but Jan Vertonghen is back despite carrying a knock.

Follow all the action from Qatar with our live blog below, at the conclusion of Spain vs Costa Rica.

Belgium vs Canada

  • Belgium sneak past Canada in Group F opener of World Cup 2022 thanks to Michy Batshuayi’s first half strike

  • 80’ - CHANCE! Substitute Larin meets a cross with a headed effort but Courtois denies him (BEL 1-0 CAN)

  • 51’ - SHOT! Eustaquio snatches at a shot from range and pulls it wide of goal (BEL 1-0 CAN)

  • 48’ - CHANCE! David meets a cross from Eustaquio but heads wide (BEL 1-0 CAN)

  • 44’ - GOAL! Batshuayi sends Belgium ahead against the run of play (BEL 1-0 CAN)

  • 31’ - CHANCE! David’s shot from inside the box gets deflected to Courtois (BEL 0-0 CAN)

  • 28’ - SHOT! 39-year-old Hutchinson fizzes a shot wide of goal from range (BEL 0-0 CAN)

  • 10’ - SAVED! Davies’ soft effort is palmed away by Courtois (BEL 0-0 CAN)

  • 9’ - PENALTY! Carrasco handles the ball inside the box gifting Canada a penalty (BEL 0-0 CAN)

Belgium 1 - 0 Canada

Harry Kane trains for England after ankle injury scare ahead of World Cup clash with USA

21:05 , Michael Jones

Harry Kane trained on Wednesday and England are optimistic the striker will be fit for Friday’s World Cup 2022 clash against the United States.

Gareth Southgate’s men enjoyed the Three Lions’ best start to a major tournament, thrashing Iran 6-2 as their quest for Qatar glory began in style on Monday.

Kane provided two assists and played 75 minutes of the Group B opener, having seemingly escaped injury despite going down gripping his right foot in pain early in the second half.

Southgate downplayed the issue but the 29-year-old left the Khalifa International Stadium with a slight limp and his right ankle lightly strapped following a poor challenge by Morteza Pouraliganji.

Kane was due for a scan on his right ankle ahead of the US game and it seems the striker has avoided injury as he trained with the group on Wednesday.

Kane trains for England after ankle injury scare ahead of clash with USA

FT Belgium 1-0 Canada

21:01 , Michael Jones

The result boils down to these stats. Canada had 21 shots but only managed to hit the target three times. On top of that Alphonso Davies had a penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois who continues to show how great his is.

In comparison Belgium had the same amount of shots on target in just nine attempts.

Full-time: Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:57 , Michael Jones

90+5 mins: Belgium cling on! Roberto Martinez’s men take maximum points from a game that Canada dominated. In every aspect bar one the Canadians outplayed Belgium but they were woeful in front of goal.

Alphonso Davies’ missed penalty in the first half was a crucial moment and Michy Batshuayi’s goal was another. Belgium win the game and move to the top of Group F.

They’ve now won eight consecutive World Cup group games drawing level with Brazil’s record.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:54 , Michael Jones

90+3 mins: Belgium are on the verge of victory now. It’ll be three points they don’t necessarily deserve but they’ve earned due to being more clinical in front of goal.

Michy Batshuayi’s strike remains the difference between the teams. Two minutes to play.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:51 , Michael Jones

90 mins: Canada earn themselves a last minute corner, can they convert it into their first World Cup goal? They deserve at least a point out of this game.

The corner is whipped into the box but sails over everyone’s heads. What a waste.

Five minutes will be added on.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:46 , Michael Jones

86 mins: Belgium’s free kick is certainly in Kevin De Bruyne territory. He decides not to go for goal and instead lifts a cross into the box.

Leander Dendoncker attacks the ball and heads it well over the crossbar!

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:44 , Michael Jones

83 mins: Yellow card to Alistair Johnston! The Canadian right-back is done for pace by Lois Openda who knocks the ball past him and looks to drive into the box.

Jonhston desperately takes him out before he gets to the box and gifts Belgium a free kick.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:41 , Michael Jones

80 mins: Chance! Eustaquio receives the ball and is allowed to turn into space over on the right side. He swings a great cross into the middle of the box and picks of Cyle Larin.

Larin’s headed effort finds the target but Thibaut Courtois drops to his right and smothers the ball.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:39 , Michael Jones

78 mins: Belgium’s goalscorer Michy Batshuayi is hooked off as time ticks away in Qatar. He’s replaced with Lois Openda for the final stages of this game.

Can Belgium score again and secure these three points?

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:37 , Michael Jones

75 mins: Close! Laryea injects a bit of momentum into Canada’s play and feeds Buchanan out on the right. He carries the ball all the way up to the penalty area then slides it inside to Cyle Larin.

Larin takes a touch and the ball runs away from him meaning that Belgium can boot it clear before he gets a shot away.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:35 , Michael Jones

72 mins: Less than 20 minutes plus added time to go now for Canada who seem to be tiring. They’ve pressed Belgium exceptionally well so far and need to keep those intensity levels high.

It’s going to be a tough ask for them though.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:31 , Michael Jones

69 mins: Incredible defending from Richie Laryea! Belgium create an overload after Kamal Miller’s mistimed challenge which sees De Bruyne in space on the right.

He slides the ball into Batshuayi who takes an age to control it. Laryea sprints back and lunges in from behind just as the Belgian takes his shot.

Laryea blocks the effort and knocks it out for a corner!

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:28 , Michael Jones

66 mins: Cyle Larin keeps the ball in play at the byline but Leander Dendoncker cuts short Canada’s attack. He clears the ball to Kevin De Bruyne who drives up the pitch before slotting a pass over to Michy Batshuayi.

Kamal Miller comes flying across and leaps into the tackle. He wins the ball and kicks Canada back into attack. Fantastic tackle.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:24 , Michael Jones

63 mins: Eden Hazard’s night is over as Brighton’s Leandro Trossard is introduced to replace him for Belgium. Hazard didn’t really have the impact on the game he would have been hoping for.

Belgium lose possession deep in their own half and a squared pass sees the ball roll over to Tajon Buchanan who hurridly takes a shot from range and belts it very high over the crossbar!

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:21 , Michael Jones

60 mins: Buchanan dribbles down the left side and runs into Meunier who leaves a bit too much on the attacker gifting Canada another free kick in a dangerous area.

Eustaquio takes this one too but curls the set piece straight out of play as he targetted his team mates over by the back post.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:20 , Michael Jones

57 mins: John Herdman looks to his bench just before the hour mark and makes a double substitution with Cyle Larin and Ismael Kone coming on to replace Junior Hoilett and Atiba Hutchinson.

Larin had a very good qualifying campaign for Canada who will need him to get on the scoresheet again tonight.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:15 , Michael Jones

54 mins: Yellow card! A diagonal ball comes across the pitch with Hoilett and Meunier colliding as they try to win it in the air. Meunier leads with his elbow and clips Hoilett on the back of the head earning himself a place in the book.

Canada win a free kick that Eustaquio lifts over to the far side of the penalty area. Belgium hold their line high and the ball goes over everyone.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:11 , Michael Jones

51 mins: Shot! Canada continue to push high up the pitch with Belgium sitting off them and holding their shape just inside the penalty are.

Eustaquio is given the ball and he shifts it to the right to create enough space for a long ranged effort. There’s decent power behind the shot but he hooks it well wide of the far post.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:10 , Michael Jones

48 mins: Chance! How many more opportunities will Canada get? Buchanan and Johnston combine on the right wing but run into trouble and have to release the ball back to Eustaquio.

He flicks a brilliant pass into the box and perfectly finds David who then whips his headed effort wide of the far post!

Second half: Belgium 1-0 Canada

20:07 , Michael Jones

Kick off: Belgium get the ball rolling for the second half with Roberto Martinez making a couple of changes. Thomas Meunier and Amadou Onana are on in place of Yannick Carrasco and Youri Tielemans.

No changes for Canada.

Gavi tipped to be ‘one of the stars of world football’ by Spain boss Enrique

20:03 , Michael Jones

Spain boss Luis Enrique predicted Gavi will be “one of the stars of world football” after the teenager became the youngest World Cup goalscorer since Pele 64 years ago.

Gavi scored Spain’s fifth goal in a 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica – La Roja’s biggest-ever World Cup victory.

The Barcelona midfielder’s World Cup goal, a brilliant volley with the outside of the foot which went in off a post, came at the age of 18 years and 110 days.

Pele scored against Wales in a 1958 quarter-final at the age of 17 years and 249 days. Enrique said: “Gavi is a unique player. He is 18 but he has the personality of an experienced player.”

Gavi tipped to be ‘one of the stars of world football’ by Spain boss Enrique

HT Belgium 1-0 Canada

19:57 , Michael Jones

Worrying signs.

Canada haven’t won any of their last three matches when they’ve conceded the opening goal in a World Cup match.

HT Belgium 1-0 Canada

19:54 , Michael Jones

Michy Batshuayi’s opener is the difference between the teams at half-time.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Half-time: Belgium 1-0 Canada

19:51 , Michael Jones

45+5 mins: There goes the whistle for half-time. Canada created a handful of opportunities in that 45 minutes but they couldn’t take any of them.

Michy Batshuayi took his chance when it came to him and somehow he’s put Belgium in front. They’ll need to play better in the second half though if they want to close out this game.

Belgium 1-0 Canada

19:48 , Michael Jones

45+2 mins: There’s five minutes of added time to play.

Chance! Laryea gets in behind the Belgium defence with another impressive run down the right wing. He puts a teasing pass into the six-yard area and Tajon Buchanan gets in front of his marker.

The Canadian sticks out his left leg and lifts his effort over the crossbar!

GOAL! Belgium 1-0 Canada (Batshuayi, 44’)⚽️

19:44 , Michael Jones

44 mins: That was the danger, Belgium score against the run of play!

It’s not brilliant defending from Canada who allow a simple long ball to come over the top. Yannick Carrasco and Michy Batshuayi follow the ball into the box.

It bounces kindly for Batshuayi who laces a left-footed effort at goal and blasts the ball past Milan Borjan.

Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:41 , Michael Jones

40 mins: Possible penalty for Canada!

Hutchinson combines with Richie Laryea who drives the ball into the penalty area. He’s seemingly clipped by Axel Witsel who tries to keep him at bay and the Canadian hits the deck.

The referee doesn’t award a penalty and after a VAR check the game goes on. Nervous times for Belgium.

Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:38 , Michael Jones

37 mins: Also going against Canada at the minute is the fact that they’re up against a very good goalkeeper.

Thibaut Courtois was exceptional for Real Madrid in the Champions League final last season and his performance won them the trophy. He’s already proven his worth to Belgium tonight by keeping out Davies’ penalty.

Courtois has saved five of the nine penalties he has faced for club and country in all competitions in 2022. That’s (56%).

Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:35 , Michael Jones

34 mins: Canada have missing that crucial, clinical strike to finish off their brilliant moves. They’ve been the more attacking and frankly better side tonight and deserve to be in front but their finishing is letting them down.

There’s a good atmosphere inside the stadium pushing them on though.

Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:32 , Michael Jones

31 mins: Chance! Great pass from Steven Eustaquio who floats an aerial pass up to Tajn Buchanan. He chests the ball under control the slides the ball over to Jonathan David.

David finds himself rushed inside the penalty area and his shot is deflected into the hands of Thibaut Courtois.

Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:28 , Michael Jones

28 mins: Hazard versus Johnston seems like a mismatch. The Canadian right-back needs help when the Belgian captain runs at him. This time he gets it from Steven Vitoria and the duo force the ball backwards.

Chance! Here come Canada. They work the ball over to the left wing where it gets played inside to Davies. His brilliant footwork takes the ball past three Belgium players before a square pass sets up Atiba Hutchinson with a long ranged shot.

The 39-year-old runs onto the ball and drills it first time only to send the shot well wide of the target. That would have been some story if he’d scored that effort.

Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:24 , Michael Jones

25 mins: Close! Eden Hazard’s first proper involvement sees him spin away from Alistair Johnston and take the ball into the box. He cuts it back to Tielemans who rolls it on to De Bruyne.

De Bruyne feeds the ball over to the right side of the area where Michy Batshuayi takes a poor touch then pokes his shot towards the near post only for Kamal Miller to leap across and get the block in!

Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:21 , Michael Jones

22 mins: I’ve got the feeling that Canada are going to rue that penalty miss by the end of the game. It was a massive opportunity for Alphonso Davies to score the country’s first ever World Cup goal but it was a poor effort.

Belgium are starting to settle down now. They’re maintaining possession well and Canada are starting to make a few mistakes.

Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:19 , Michael Jones

19 mins: Better from Belgium. A quick transition sees the balll come up to Kevin De Bruyne who turns towards goal and drives forward.

He’s got Yannick Carrasco on his left and Youri Tielemans to his right. De Bruyne slides the ball into the box for Carrasco but overhits the pass and Milan Borjan scoops up the loose ball.

Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:18 , Michael Jones

16 mins: Oh man, Belgium are all over the place. Canada’s pace up top is causing them serious problems. Roberto Martinez’s side haven’t got into the game at all yet.

They need a period of possession, preferably inside Canada’s final third.

Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:16 , Michael Jones

13 mins: Chance! The penalty miss hasn’t put a dent in Canada’s spirit. Junior Hoilett swings a cross in from the left side and the ball is nodded down by Buchanan.

The ball bounces ot Jonathan David who switches it onto his left foot and shoots only for his effort to get blocked by the closest defender.

SAVED! Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:11 , Michael Jones

10 mins: Denied! Alphonso Davies steps up to take the spot kick and curls a soft effort to Thibaut Courtois’ right. The goalkeeper guesses correctly and leaps across.

He gets two hands to the ball and palms it away and Canada send the rebound out of play!

Penalty to Canada!

19:09 , Michael Jones

Belgium 0-0 Canada

9 mins: Tajon Buchanan has found a bit of joy on the right wing. He drives the ball up alongisde the box before whipping a cross into the middle. Jonathan David gets a boot to the ball and pokes it wide but the referee awards Canada a corner.

Junior Hoilett delivers the set piece and picks out Buchanan in the box. He brings the ball down then smokes a shot at goal. Yannick Carrasco blocks the shot but there’s a huge shout for a handball against him.

VAR calls the referee over to the monitor. He takes one look at the incident and points to the spot! Huge moment coming up for Canada.

Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:06 , Michael Jones

6 mins: There’s no fear on show from Canada. They’re aggressive in possession and trust their defenders to keep Belgium at bay if lose the ball.

You’d expect Belgium to take the initiative away from them at some point but for now Canada have been impressive.

Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:03 , Michael Jones

3 mins: Chance! Alistair Johnston comes under pressure and gifts the ball to Michy Batshayi who turns towards the Canadian goal and takes a strike from range. There’s a deflection on the shot and it loops up nicely for Milan Borjan to cling onto.

Canada then sweep down the left with Junior Hoilett dribbling his way into the box. He sends a dangerous pass into the six yard area but Belgium manage to clear the danger.

Good start to this game.

Kick off: Belgium 0-0 Canada

19:01 , Michael Jones

Canada kick off the match and send the ball backwards. They pass it around the back line before giving it to Milan Borjan after Belgium’s attackers start to press.

The goalkeeper clears the ball with a long hoof up the pitch.

Belgium vs Canada

18:56 , Michael Jones

Here come the teams.

On paper this fixture looks like an easy win for Belgium but Canada have pace up top and are full of confidence having qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 36 years.

The national anthems are sung, the fans are ready, kick off is up next...

Belgium vs Canada

18:52 , Michael Jones

John Herdman is the first person to manage a team at both the men’s and women’s World Cup finals. He managed New Zealand (2007, 2011) and Canada (2015) at the women’s World Cup.

Canada lost all three of their matches at their only previous World Cup appearance in 1986 without scoring a goal.

Les Rouges are winless in their last 12 games against European opposition with five draws and seven defeats.

If he plays, Atiba Hutchinson (39 years 288 days) will become the second oldest outfield player in World Cup history behind only Cameroon’s Roger Milla.

Belgium vs Canada

18:49 , Michael Jones

Only Mexico (16) have made more World Cup appearances than Belgium (13) without ever having lifted the trophy. The Belgians were the top goal scorers at the 2018 World Cup, scoring 16 times as they finished third.

They are unbeaten in their last 12 World Cup group stage matches since losing to Saudi Arabia in 1994 and the Red Devils can equal the World Cup record of eight consecutive group stage wins, set twice by Brazil between 1986-1994 and again in 2002-2010.

Belgium taking calculated risk that playmaker, Eden Hazard, can recapture old glories

18:46 , Michael Jones

Kevin De Bruyne’s mercurial talent is indisputable and Romelu Lukaku will be a powerful force up front, so the big question for Belgium heading to the World Cup 2022 in Qatar is whether they can get the best out of playmaker Eden Hazard.

The Real Madrid midfielder has barely played in the Spanish capital this season but Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has kept faith and started him in both Nations League games in September.

Injuries and a loss of form have pushed Hazard down the pecking order at his club, and that in turn has raised questions about the 31-year-old’s place in the national side and whether he will be in peak condition in Qatar.

Belgium taking calculated risk that Eden Hazard can recapture old glories

The Canada star born in a refugee camp and donating his World Cup earnings to charity

18:43 , Michael Jones

Alphonso Davies’ unlikely path to spearheading Canada’s first World Cup campaign in nearly four decades began in a West African refugee camp where children’s dreams are eclipsed by the need to survive.

Davies, a left back at Bayern Munich, was born in the Ghanaian refugee camp of Buduburam to Liberian parents who fled civil war in their country.

His family emigrated to Canada when he was five, the age at which many Canadian children put on skates and handle a hockey stick for the first time.

The former refugee, now 22, has raised Canadian men’s soccer to new heights, becoming the youngest player to feature for the senior national team as a 16-year-old and the first Canadian to win the men’s Champions League Final.

Canada star Alphonso Davies donating his World Cup earnings to charity

Nadia Nadim: ITV World Cup pundit left heartbroken after mother killed in road accident

18:38 , Michael Jones

World Cup pundit Nadia Nadim has been left heartbroken after her mother was killed by a truck. The Denmark legend was forced off air on ITV during Denmark’s draw against Tunisia at Qatar.

And the 34-year-old has paid tribute to her mother and confirmed the tragic news.

“Words can not describe what I’m feeling,” Nadim said in a statement. “I have lost the most important person in my life and it happened so sudden and unexpected. She was only 57.”

World Cup pundit Nadia Nadim left heartbroken after mother killed in road accident

‘The Golden Generation’ of Belgium will step up on World Cup stage says Martinez

18:34 , Michael Jones

Belgium may not be weighed down by history – but that doesn’t make expectation levels any less hefty.

Roberto Martinez’s side have been the number one side in the world for most of the four years between the last World Cup in Russia and this tournament in Qatar.

They’ve also reached the last eight of every major tournament since 2014, but have yet to make a major final. Their third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup is, to date, the best achievement by a side who many would consider to be capable of so much more.

Their most recent brush with disappointment came at last year’s Euros, after an epic clash with Italy at Munich’s Allianz Arena. It’s a game that Belgian boss, Roberto Martinez, remains convinced could have gone either way.

Roberto Martinez: ‘The Golden Generation’ of Belgium will step up at World Cup

Meet the Englishman helping Canada to dream big at Qatar World Cup

18:29 , Michael Jones

It’s the summer of 1986 and excitement is building in two very different part of the globe.

In Canada, the country is preparing for its first ever World Cup finals, under the guidance of an English manager, Tony Waiters, who narrowly missed out on selection for his country’s World Cup squad in 1966.

In the North East, there’s a similar sense of anticipation as a budding 10-year-old footballer busies himself with the task of completing his 1986 Panini World Cup sticker album.

England’s players are given the large sticker treatment, with the likes of Gary Lineker and Peter Shilton afforded full squares in the album. Canada’s players, meanwhile, assume the role of second-class citizens, their players squeezed into Panini pairs on the page.

Meet the Englishman helping Canada to dream big at Qatar World Cup

Belgium vs Canada

18:24 , Michael Jones

The only international fixture between Belgium and Canada was a friendly in Ottawa in June 1989 which the visitors won 2-0.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Spain score seven in World Cup annihilation of dismal Costa Rica

18:19 , Michael Jones

Spain put on an exhibition, that is also an ominous display of their quality.

It might be far too early to call this 7-0 rout a victory of champions, but it’s fair to say it was the most complete and convincing team performance of this World Cup 2022 so far. Spain have announced themselves, in a manner similar to the 4-1 evisceration over Russia that sparked their Euro 2008 win.

The only pity was that there were so few people here to see it, Spain’s grand showcase also highlighting one of the less serious but still significant problems of this World Cup. There was never any hint, however, that Luis Enrique’s team would suffer from one of the growing football issues of this World Cup.

Far from arriving undercooked - as group rivals Germany, Argentina and other big sides look - Spain have the sense of a team coming together.

And, yes, it was only Costa Rica. But Pedri is only 19. Gavi is only 18.

Spain score seven in World Cup annihilation of dismal Costa Rica

Leah Williamson interview: ‘Football is everyone’s game - the Qatar World Cup is wrong’

18:15 , Michael Jones

If leadership in football has looked short in recent days, Leah Williamson can help to provide an antidote. The England captain says the staging of the men’s World Cup in Qatar is “wrong” but wants to use her voice to highlight the discrimination of LGBTQ+ people in the host country, while promoting messages of inclusion and equality closer to home.

Armbands, and England’s decision not to follow through with their ‘OneLove’ stance following pressure from Fifa, has been the hot topic of the opening days of the World Cup. In July, Williamson proudly wore her rainbow armband in support of LGBTQ+ rights as the Lionesses won the Euros at Wembley. It was a victory that stood for more than football, celebrated in an environment that was inclusive and diverse.

“I think one of the biggest compliments I’ve had since the Euros is someone went to one of our games when they were afraid to go to a men’s game,” Williamson tells The Indepdendent. “I wouldn’t want anyone to feel like it wasn’t their game. We wanted to show that supporting England is an open invitation to be exactly who you want to be, because that’s what we do too.”

Leah Williamson interview: ‘Football is everyone’s game - this World Cup is wrong’

‘Best Switzerland national team that has ever existed’ ready for World Cup

18:10 , Michael Jones

Switzerland coach Murat Yakin believes his squad is well equipped to make history as they prepare for their opening match of the 2022 World Cup against Cameroon in Group G on Thursday.

The Swiss have not reached the quarter-finals since they hosted the tournament in 1954 but, having emerged undefeated through qualifying, Yakin has urged his side to make the most of what he considers an unprecedented opportunity.

“I think we are the best Switzerland national team that has ever existed – we have fantastic players who play abroad and I am convinced we will perform our best World Cup ever,” said Yakin.

‘Best Switzerland national team that has ever existed’ ready for World Cup

Pedri and Gavi combination marks out Spain’s strength as World Cup challengers

18:06 , Michael Jones

A fired volley wide by Dani Olmo. Another chance over the top of the defence with Ferran Torres in attendance. Marco Asensio scuffing wide and then Olmo, again, finally beating the ‘keeper after a magical first touch over the final centre-back.

This was all Spain, all one-way football and all through the incredibly talented creative duo of Gavi and Pedri in midfield. And all inside the opening 10 minutes, too.

The young Barcelona pair were utterly dominant and relentless in the first half-hour of the match, creating openings and shooting chances at will and contributing in very direct ways to Luis Enrique’s side going three goals up in that time.

Above perhaps all other games so far at the World Cup 2022, this scoreline, this performance, will be discounted by the quality - or lack thereof - of opposition. Costa Rica offered nothing: no aggression high upfield, no capacity to get close in midfield and nowhere near enough of a compact defence to stop the red waves coming. The eventual 7-0 scoreline was justice, entirely.

And yet, even if this was a glorified training session after Asensio’s finish and Ferran from the spot, it highlighted exactly what Spain will try to do against all opponents, in all situations.

Pedri and Gavi combination marks out Spain’s strength as World Cup challengers

Spain vs Costa Rica player ratings: Gavi and Pedri pull strings in scintillating Qatar World Cup win

18:03 , Michael Jones

Spain began their Qatar World Cup campaign with a mesmerising 7-0 win against Costa Rica on Wednesday.

After Germany’s shock loss to Japan elsewhere in Group E earlier in the day, this game marked a great chance for Luis Enrique’s side to establish themselves as frontrunners in the pool.

And Spain certainly seized the initiative, downing Costa Rica with ease thanks to goals from Dani Olmo, Marcos Asensio, Gavi, Carlos Soler, Alvaro Morata and Ferran Torres – the latter scoring twice.

It was a superb all-round performance from the 2010 champions, who will be incredibly confident ahead of their next group game, against Germany on Sunday.

Here’s how Spain’s players fared against Costa Rica.:

Spain vs Costa Rica player ratings: Gavi and Pedri pull strings in scintillating win

Full-time: Spain 7-0 Costa Rica

18:00 , Michael Jones

90+8 mins: A destructive, dominant and delightful display from Spain sees them thrash Costa Rica 7-0 and gives Luis Enrique’s side firm control of Group E.

They move to the top of the table, just ahead of Japan, and will qualify for the last 16 if they defeat Germany at the weekend. Costa Rica have lots of work to do but their next match is against Japan and they’ll believe they can get something out of that game.

Spain 7-0 Costa Rica

17:56 , Michael Jones

90+5 mins: Spain have outdone England tonight. The Three Lions managed six goals in their opening fixture against Iran but even then they conceded twice.

Spain have cruised to seven with Costa Rica not even getting close to a shot on target.

GOAL! Spain 7-0 Costa Rica (Morata, 90+2)⚽️

17:53 , Michael Jones

90+2 mins: Seven!

Alvaro Morata hovers around the front edge of the penalty area and receives the ball as it gets squared across from the right. He lays it off to Dani Olmo before spinning away from the nearest centre-back and getting the ball passed back to him.

It’s a lovely one-two and Morata caps off the move with a fine finish into the bottom left corner.

Spain 6-0 Costa Rica

17:52 , Michael Jones

90+1 mins: There’s also eight minutes of added time to play. Plenty of time for more goals here.

GOAL! Spain 6-0 Costa Rica (Soler, 90’)⚽️

17:50 , Michael Jones

90 mins: Spain hit six!

Gavi sends it out to Williams on the right wing. He carries the ball into space and curls a teasing low cross into the box. Keylor Navas decides he has to come for the ball but only manages to palm it into the path of Carlos Soler.

Soler takes a touch and then guides a tap-in over the line.

Belgium vs Canada

17:48 , Michael Jones

Coming up after the conclusion of this game is the final match of the day when Belgium take on Canada in Group F.

Team news has just dropped so here’s a look at how they both line-up:

Belgium: Thibaut Courtois, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Leander Dendoncker, Timothy Castagne, Axel Witsel, Youri Tielemans, Yannick Carrasco, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Michy Batshuayi

Canada: Milan Borjan, Richie Laryea, Kamal Miller, Steven Vitoria, Alistair Johnston, Alphonso Davies, Stephen Eustaquio, Atiba Hutchinson, Tajon Buchanan, Junior Hoilett, Jonathan David

Spain 5-0 Costa Rica

17:46 , Michael Jones

83 mins: Superb Spain running riot against Costa Rica.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Spain 5-0 Costa Rica

17:42 , Michael Jones

80 mins: 10 minutes plus how ever long the officials decide to add on for stoppage time to play.

Rodri slides a through ball up to Koke who spins before playing Morata into the right side of the box. The forward has a shy at goal but doesn’t catch it right and hooks his effort out of play.

Spain 5-0 Costa Rica

17:39 , Michael Jones

77 mins: This has been a training game for Spain. They haven’t been asked any questions and every time they moved forward with any type of quality the end result has been a goal or a shot.

There’s a bit of a barney between Kendall Waston and Gavi in the middle of the pitch and the referee calls both men over for a chat. He tells them to calm it down.

GOAL! Spain 5-0 Costa Rica (Gavi, 74’)⚽️

17:34 , Michael Jones

74 mins: Gavi joins the fun! Balde goes on a driving run through the inside left channel and slips a pass into the box for Alvaro Morata who stays onside. He’s forced over to the left side of the box but holds up the ball before flicking it over to the arriving teenager.

Gavi pops up in the box after a run from deep, he meets the ball on the volley and pokes it onto the inside of the right post where the ball deflects into the back of the net.

Spain 4-0 Costa Rica

17:33 , Michael Jones

72 mins: 28-year-old Iñaki Williams Arthuer now replaces Marco Asensio up in the forward line. He’s started out wide on the right with Morata taking the central forward role.

Spain kick forward on the break with Luis Enrique encouraging them forward from the touchline - he certainly wants more goals. However, the attack breaks down on the edge of the box and Costa Rica scramble it clear.

Spain 4-0 Costa Rica

17:30 , Michael Jones

69 mins: Spain have scored four or more goals in a World Cup match for just the fourth time having last done so in a 4-0 victory against Ukraine in 2006.

Is this a sign of things to come? The 2010 champions will be eyeing another good run in this tournament after two poor campaigns in 2014 and 2018.

Spain 4-0 Costa Rica

17:28 , Michael Jones

66 mins: Spain’s centre-back pair of Aymeric Laporte and Rodri are pushing up to the halfway line with they are in possession. It’s like watching Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at times.

This has been one of the most one-sided affairs of the tournament so far.

Spain 4-0 Costa Rica

17:25 , Michael Jones

63 mins: Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba are the two men taken off in order for Balde and Koke to come on. Both men will play crucial roles for Spain’s next match against the Germans - who have to win - so they’re given a rest for the final half an hour or so.

Spain 4-0 Costa Rica

17:23 , Michael Jones

60 mins: Alejandro Balde and Koke are ready to come for Spain as well.

This game is now a matter of how many they want to score. With Germany still to come in the group qualification may come down to goal difference so Luis Enrique will be encouraging his players to keep attacking.

Spain 4-0 Costa Rica

17:20 , Michael Jones

57 mins: That fourth goal signals the time for a change from Luis Enrique. Alvaro Morata and Carlos Soler are introduced to replace Ferran Torres and Pedri.

GOAL! Spain 4-0 Costa Rica (Ferran, 54’)⚽️

17:15 , Michael Jones

54 mins: Two for Ferran Torres! Four for Spain! The goals keep on coming.

Gavi makes a run out to the right wing as the ball is sent down the line. He collects it and sends a pass into the box for Torres. Torres weaves away from Duarte before Bryan Oviedo knocks the ball loose.

Keylor Navas comes out to close down the Spaniard but Torres shrugs Oviedo away from the ball, brings it onto his left foot the curls a shot past the goalkeeper on the turn.

Lovely finish.

Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

17:14 , Michael Jones

52 mins: The corner ball is played short to Marco Asensio who slides a beautifully weighted pass into the right side of the box. Dani Olmo is first to the loose ball and his cutback is hooked clear by Oscar Duarte.

Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

17:12 , Michael Jones

51 mins: Costa Rica are yet to have a shot, in fact I can only remember one instance where they nearly troubled the Spanish back line.

Spain ended the first half with 85% possession and they’re looking to increase that. Cesar Azpilicueta flings a throw in into the box and the ball gets turned behind for a Spanish corner.

Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

17:09 , Michael Jones

48 mins: Close! Spain pick up where they left off in the first half and move the ball quickly down the right side of the pitch. Marco Asensio drifts into space on the front edge of the box, close to the ‘D’.

He receives the ball, rolls it onto his left foot then smokes a shot over the crossbar. Perhaps the imminent tackle from Oscar Duarte just made him rush but Asensio isn’t overly pleased with that effort.

Second half: Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

17:06 , Michael Jones

Kick off: Costa Rica get the ball rolling for the second half against Spain. Carlos Martinez has gone off for the Central American side with Kendall Waston replacing him.

No changes for Spain as of yet.

HT Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

17:02 , Michael Jones

With Gavi and Pedri both starting, Spain are the first European side to name two teenagers in their starting XI for a World Cup match since Bulgaria against England in 1962 (Jechev and Sokolov).

At 18 years and 110 days, Gavi became the youngest player to play for Spain in a major international tournament (World Cup + European Championship) in the history of the national team.

HT Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

16:58 , Michael Jones

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Half-time: Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

16:50 , Michael Jones

45+5 mins: Good block! Marco Asensio almost has a second after being slipped into the left side of the box. He shoots from a narrow angle but Oscar Duarte leaps in front of the ball and blocks it with his sprawling body.

That’s the last act of the first half and Spain head into the break three goals up.

Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

16:49 , Michael Jones

45+3 mins: Nearly! Spain cut through Costa Rice with two passes. They’re knocking it around the back simply enough before Rodri bypasses the midfield with a through ball up to Gavi.

He collects it on the edge of the box and wants to play in Asensio. The forward is stuck on his heels and Gavi’s pass into the penalty area shoots by him before he can get in space.

Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

16:46 , Michael Jones

45 mins: There’s going to be five minutes of stoppage time added on at the end of the first half. Costa Rica need to get into the break, they’re been run off their feet out there at present.

Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

16:43 , Michael Jones

42 mins: Costa Rica look tired already. They’ve hardly had any time in possession and have been asked to defend diligently. Asensio makes a run behind the defence and collects the ball as it comes over the top down the right wing.

He’s closed down by a couple of defenders but manages to release the ball as his team mates join him in the final third.

Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

16:41 , Michael Jones

39 mins: Costa Rica have finally move to a back five but Spain are utilising short, sharp passes to play around them. They have six men in and around the penalty area as Cesar Azpilicueta brings the ball down the right wing.

Ferran Torres makes a run off the ball into the six-yard area but Azpilicueta’s cross skips over the top of his head and Costa Rica clear the danger.

Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

16:37 , Michael Jones

36 mins: Spain have scored three goals in the first half of a World Cup match for only the second time in their history, also doing so against Brazil in 1934.

Jewison Bennette, the young Costa Rican attacker, is trying to drive his team onward. He brings the ball down the left side but runs into trouble and gets dispossessed as there are limited options in the box for him.

Spain 3-0 Costa Rica

16:36 , Michael Jones

33 mins: Spain have had 87% possession and have killed off the game well before half-time. They’re in cruise control now and Luis Enrique will be thinking ahead to the Germany game on Sunday.

GOAL! Spain 3-0 Costa Rica (Ferran, 31’)⚽️

16:32 , Michael Jones

31 mins: Game over. Ferran Torres is up for Spain and calmly sends Keylor Navas diving the wrong way to his right as he slides the ball over to the opposite corner.

Spain are 3-0 to the good and there’s no chance of another upset tonight.

Penalty to Spain!

16:32 , Michael Jones

Spain 2-0 Costa Rica

29 mins: Things are going from bad to worse for Costa Rica. Jordi Alba weaves his way into the penalty area and is clipped but a scrappy attempted tackle from Oscar Duarte.

It’s a soft penalty but the referee points to the spot.

Spain 2-0 Costa Rica

16:30 , Michael Jones

25 mins: Marco Asensio is Spain’s 50th different goalscorer at the World Cup. Costa Rica look incredible shaky in defence now as Spain pass it with seeming ease.

GOAL! Spain 2-0 Costa Rica (Asensio, 21’)⚽️

16:21 , Michael Jones

21 mins: Two for Spain!

Costa Rica had looked to get further up the pitch but they’ve been undone by a diagonal pass out to Jordi Alba on the left wing. He’s pushed high up the pitch and brings the ball under control before picking out Marco Asensio in the penalty area.

Asensio meets it with a first time effort and guides the ball beautifully into the far bottom corner!

Spain 1-0 Costa Rica

16:20 , Michael Jones

15 mins: Spain continue to press their advantage but Costa Rica are sticking to their original shape. The Central American side see a bit of possession inside the Spanish final third but can’t get the ball into the box.

GOAL! Spain 1-0 Costa Rica (Olmo, 11’)⚽️

16:15 , Michael Jones

11 mins: Superb from Spain!

They work the ball over to the left wing before a pass comes inside to Dani Olmo. He drops back to collect the ball before sliding it over to Gavi and sprinting into the box.

Gavi flicks the ball over the top and gives it back to Olmo who brings it down with a spin around a defender before a calm and composed side-footed shot nestles it into the back of the net!

Spain 0-0 Costa Rica

16:54 , Michael Jones

8 mins: Chance! Spain are getting closer to the opening goal. A lovely move sees them work the ball through the middle of the pitch before finding Pedri in space on the inside left.

He plays a blind pass up to the edge of the box where Marco Asensio meets the ball with a first time left-footed effort that curls mere inches wide of the far post!

Spain 0-0 Costa Rica

16:27 , Michael Jones

5 mins: Chance! Spain come close to the opening goal after a beautiful pass from Pedri. He’s given the ball after Spain attack down the left and spots Dani Olmo’s run on the opposite side of the penalty area.

Pedri flicks the ball over to him as Olmo runs in behind Bryan Oviedo but Olmo’s volley goes wide of the far post!

Kick off: Spain 0-0 Costa Rica

16:25 , Michael Jones

Spain get the match started against Costa Rica with a long ball over to the right wing. It’s defended easily enough but the Spaniards push high and recover the ball.

Luis Enrique’s side will want to dominate possession tonight.

Jordan Pickford hoping England get ‘fair’ treatment from referees

15:41 , Michael Jones

Jordan Pickford is hoping England get fair treatment from officials after boss Gareth Southgate said he was “worried” that his side had been used as an example during pre-World Cup referee meetings.

England were denied what looked like a clear spot-kick when Harry Maguire was grabbed by Rouzbeh Cheshmi early on in their 6-2 win over Iran on Monday.

The VAR decided not to intervene but later alerted the referee to a tug on a shirt in the England box which resulted in Mehdi Taremi scoring a last-gasp penalty, while a similar offence resulted in a spot-kick in Argentina’s shock defeat to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

Jordan Pickford hoping England get ‘fair’ treatment from referees

Roy Keane says World Cup teams can do more after Germany’s on-pitch protest: ‘It’s a start’

15:36 , Michael Jones

Roy Keane responded to the German football team’s apparent protest ahead of their opening World Cup 2022 fixture, saying it’s a “start” but that players can “do more”.

Captained by Manuel Neuer, the Germany players covered their mouths during the team photo to suggest they were being “gagged” by Fifa.

“The most important people are supporters and players, use their voice, wear the armband, stand up,” Keane said in response. “Leadership is about action, go and do it if this is going to drag on. It’s a start, they can do more.”

‘It’s a start’: Roy Keane says teams can do more after Germany’s on-pitch protest

Spain vs Costa Rica

15:31 , Michael Jones

The fans are ready to go. Kick off between Spain and Costa Rica is 30 minutes away. Will this match provide another upset in Group E after Japan defeated Germany earlier today?

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Germany fall to Japan but stand up to Fifa as pressure mounts at controversial Qatar World Cup

15:11 , Michael Jones

Germany fans had waited four years for their team to make a statement at the Qatar World Cup, but they weren’t necessarily thinking of the one that Hansi Flick’s side delivered in their opening game.

While the national team failed to banish the spectre of Russia 2018, where Germany’s World Cup campaign came crashing down in Kazan, the team at least ensured that they addressed a much more pressing issue here.

Four-and-a-half years after a 2-0 defeat by South Korea saw Germany’s catastrophic world title defence end in the group stage – and in shame – the four-time champions went some way to restoring pride before they had kicked a ball against Japan; which was just as well, given their actual kicking of the ball offered little to celebrate.

Germany fall to Japan but stand up to Fifa as pressure mounts in Qatar

Japan shock Germany with comeback win!

15:06 , Michael Jones

Germany have been defeated by Japan!

Hansi Flick’s side were rocked in the second half but the Japanese who scored twice to earn their first victory ever against the four time World Cup champions.

Japan take all three points and move to the top of Group E. If Spain beat Costa Rica in the next match up Germany could be on the verge of getting knocked out of the World Cup.

Spain’s unique wonderkid who is ‘better than Iniesta’

15:02 , Michael Jones

Barcelona midfielder Pedri will turn 20 years old two days before Spain face Germany in one of the most anticipated games of the World Cup group stage.

The midfielder could be highly influential against the four-time world champions as both nations are expected to finish in the top two of Group E, the so-called group of death, with Japan and Costa Rica as the underdogs.

Pedri was a key part of Spain’s run to the semi-finals of the European Championship last year and, along with his performances for his club, won both the 2021 Golden Boy and Kopa Trophy, awarded to the best player under the age of 21.

Spain’s unique wonderkid Pedri who is ‘better than Iniesta’

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