Kevin De Bruyne mystified by World Cup player of the match award: ‘I wasn’t great’


Kevin De Bruyne was named player of the match in Belgium’s 1-0 win against Canada in their World Cup opener on Wednesday — and couldn’t understand why.

Belgium, who are ranked second in the world by FIFA, were underwhelming in their first match of the 2022 World Cup and almost went behind when they conceded a first-half penalty.

But Thibaut Courtois made a fine save to deny Alphonso Davies from the spot before Michy Batshuayi scored what proved to be the winner shortly before the break.

De Bruyne, 31, cut an occasionally frustrated figure and said he was as confused as anyone as to why he had been awarded player of the match.

“I don’t think I played a great game, I don’t know why I got the trophy. Maybe because of my name,” he said at a post-match press conference.



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“We just didn’t play well as a team, especially in the first half.

“We started really badly, the momentum was with Canada and we couldn’t break through the press. I think there was more space than we thought.

“I don’t think we played a good game, me included, but we found a way to win.”

The match statistics appeared to bear out De Bruyne’s suggestion that he did not have a particularly good game by the very high standards he has set at Manchester City and Belgium in recent seasons. 

He completed just 23 of his 33 passes (70 per cent) and of his two shots on goal only one was on target.

But, in a match of precious little quality, he did create four chances, three more than any of his team-mates.



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De Bruyne also explained why he confronted Toby Alderweireld in the first half of the match.

“When I saw the way we played I thought we were playing long too much, there was more space,” he said.

“You have to attract the pressing, play short and cross that line, but I don’t think we were brave enough to find that position. At half-time we cleared it up and things are OK, no hard feelings with Toby.”

The win means Belgium move to the top of Group F, after Croatia and Morocco earlier played out a goalless draw.



Belgium make Canada pay for missed opportunities

(Photo: Getty Images)


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