Kevin De Bruyne says he “doesn’t know” why he won the Man of the Match award against Canada, claiming he must have received the award solely because of his name. The humble confession was the last bizarre moment of a World Cup unlike any other, as Belgium somehow edged past their Group F opponents thanks to Michy Batshuayi’s first-half goal in Doha.
Belgium were largely under pressure from the get-go against the underdogs, who were unable to find their scoring boots as their barren World Cup run continued 36 years after their last final appearance.
Bayern Munich left-back Alphonso Davies saw an early penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois and the Real Madrid goalkeeper was forced to make a series of notable saves to prevent Canada from finding the net.
This was far from De Bruyne’s best performance as he struggled to find some form of chemistry with Belgium’s disappointing front row who were missing the injured Romelu Lukaku.
Nonetheless, he was named Man of the Match after the contest, a decision he happily admitted he did not understand.
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Former Wigan and Everton boss Martinez had no illusions that Canada were the better team, despite getting nothing out of the entertaining clash.
“Canada deserved to be better than us in the way they played,” Martinez told Match of the Day. “It’s a victory and we need to play better and grow.
“This tournament will make you develop and grow as the tournament goes on. If you do that by winning games, that’s an incredible advantage.”
“Today we didn’t win because of our normal talent and quality on the ball, but you don’t win at the World Cup if you don’t do the other side of the game.”
An unusual start in attack was made by Eden Hazard, who has made just three La Liga appearances for Real Madrid this season.
The 31-year-old was in flashy form in Russia in 2018 before his disappointing move to Spain, but it’s clear he’s no longer at the same level due to his lack of pace.
Brighton star Leandro Trossard, who has been one of the best players in the Premier League this season, was named on the bench for Martinez.
The Seagulls striker has scored seven goals in 14 Premier League outings this season, but that wasn’t enough to convince Martinez he was worthy of a starting job.
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