Vincent Kompany has praised Thibaut Courtios after Belgium narrowly beat Canada in the on Wednesday.
Belgium were expected to cruise to victory at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in , but instead Canada, appearing at only their second-ever World Cup, dominated the game and ought to have taken a shock win.
10 minutes in, the North American side won a penalty but star player Alphonso Davies’ poor spot-kick was well-saved by keeper Courtios.
One long-ball undid all their hard-work in the end, with Michy Batshuayi scoring the only goal of the game just before the break, though Canada continued to press for a goal but just lacked the clinical touch.
Belgium legend Kompany, was not impressed with his side but hailed former teammate Courtios for his performance, telling the BBC: ‘You could see the players were happy with the win but it was a difficult game.
‘Thibaut Courtois was calm and composed when they needed him but it wasn’t the best performance. He’s massively important for this Belgium team.
‘He’s got a couple of elements. His size. He’s got a volleyball background that means he can move really quickly to the ground.
‘He’s just calm. I think the biggest thing you can wish for from your goalkeeper is just to be calm, so he comes out, picks up that ball and just takes off the pressure.
‘He feels the momentum of the game so well. Important player for us.’
But it was not a good performance from Belgium at all, who will hope to improve for their next game against Morocco on Sunday.
Their manager Roberto Martinez acknowledged this, saying: ‘Canada deserved to be better than us in the way they played. I think the result reflects the things that we had to do and the way we defended for each other and took our chance.
‘It’s a win and we need to play better and to grow. We’ve been here five days, we have to grow with these games. Many top teams are losing games.
‘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.
‘We need to be realistic, we need to play well but when a team can win without playing well, it’s a lot to build on.’
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