Kevin De Bruyne was named man of the match when the Belgians defeated Canada 1-0 in the first leg of the World Cup on Wednesday, but he didn’t know why.
Belgium finished second in most of the Group F competition at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium where Thibaut Courtois had to save an Alphonso Davis penalty before Michy Batshuayi scored the goal that turned out to be the winner.
De Bruyne looked frustrated as he didn’t do well that evening, and he, like everyone else, was confused as to why he was named Man 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 the post-match press conference.
“We just didn’t play well as a team, especially in the first half.
“We started very badly, the momentum was with Canada and we couldn’t get through the press. I think there was more space than we thought.
“I don’t think we played well, including me, but we found a way to win.”
De Bruyne completed just 23 of his 33 passes (70 percent) but still created four chances, three more than any of his teammates.
“When I saw how we played, I thought we were playing too long, there was more space,” he added when asked about the confrontation with Toby Alderweireld immediately after the first-half goal.
“You have to attract pressure, play short and cross that line, but I don’t think we had the courage to find that position.
“We cleared things up at halftime and everything is fine, no hard feelings with Toby.”
Belgium head coach Roberto Martínez also acknowledged that his team did not play very well, but praised them for scoring three points.
He suggested that it was no coincidence that they were able to win a game they were far from the best at, with only nine shots to Canada’s 22.
When asked at the post-match press conference if this was his team’s worst game in a major tournament, he said: “To say worst depends on what you’re measuring.
“Was it technically the worst? Yes. Was it the worst game ever? No, because it’s a World Cup victory.
“Winning when you don’t play very well doesn’t happen by accident. We needed to show the other side of our game; we defended very well.
“You saw the disappointment because the players care.
“Huge respect for Canada’s performance. We knew they were direct and aggressive… but I don’t think that meant we didn’t deserve to win.
“We gave Canada the game they wanted, we made the field too big … overall Canada was better but I think we found a way to deserve the win.”