Kevin De Bruyne says he “doesn’t know” why he won the Man of the Match award against Canada – claiming he must have been awarded the accolade solely because of his name. The humble confession was the latest bizarre moment from a World Cup like no other as Belgium somehow squeezed past their Group F opponents thanks to Michy Batshuayi’s first-half goal in Doha.
Belgium were largely under the cosh from the get-go against the underdogs, who could not find their scoring boots as their World Cup barren run continued 36 years on from their last appearance at a finals.
Bayern Munich left-back Alphonso Davies saw an early penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois and the Real Madrid goalkeeper was forced into a number of notable stops to deny Canada from finding the net.
This was far from De Bruyne’s best performance as he struggled to find any form of chemistry with Belgium’s underwhelming frontline that was missing the injured Romelu Lukaku.
Nonetheless, he was named the Man of the Match following the contest – a decision he was happy to admit he did not understand.
Former Wigan and Everton boss Martinez was under no illusions that Canada were the better side – despite failing to take anything from the entertaining matchup.
“Canada deserved to be better than us in the way they played,” Martinez told Match of the Day. “It’s a win and we need to play better and to grow.
“This tournament is going to make you develop and grow as the tournament goes on. If you do that by winning games, it’s an incredible advantage.
“Today we didn’t win by our normal talent and quality on the ball, but you don’t win in the World Cup if you don’t do the other side of the game.”
There was a rare start in attack for Eden Hazard, who has made just three appearances in La Liga with Real Madrid this season.
The 31-year-old was in eye-catching form in Russia in 2018 before his disappointing move to Spain but it’s clear he is no longer operating at the same level due to his lack of rhythm.
Brighton hotshot Leandro Trossard, who has been one of the best players in the Premier League this season, was named on the bench by Martinez.
The Seagulls forward has hit seven goals in 14 outings in the Premier League this season but still that was not enough to convince Martinez that he was worthy of a starting berth.