Belgium 1-0 Canada

Michy Batshuayi scored and Thibaut Courtois saved a penalty as Belgium opened their World Cup campaign on Wednesday with a scrappy 1-0 win over an energetic Canada side returning to the finals for first time in 36 years.

Leading the Belgian attack in the absence of injured talisman Romelu Lukaku, Batshuayi scored against the run of play on the stroke of halftime to put the Red Devils top of Group F ahead of Morocco and Croatia who earlier drew 0-0.

Despite getting the win, the Belgian players were far from satisfied with their performance as they managed only nine attempts on goal to 21 for Canada.

If not for the lack of a Canadian finisher and a penalty save by Courtois from Alphonso Davies the result could have been very different.

"This was not good enough," said Belgian midfielder Kevin de Bruyne. "We made it difficult for ourselves and stress crept into the team. It has to be better, myself included."

In their only other World Cup appearance in Mexico in 1986, Canada lost all three matches and failed to score a goal.

Despite an inspired effort decades later, the result remained the same as Canada walked off Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium pitch with another loss and failure to find the back of the net.

Canada looked as if they would register their long-awaited first goal when Belgium's Yannick Carrasco handled the ball in the 11th minute and Davies stepped up to take the penalty with the Canadian supporters roaring.

But Courtois, one of the world's best goalkeepers, denied Davies an historic score by stopping his weak spot-kick.