Canada’s Women’s National Team Head Coach John Herdman is looking firmly into the future
With an eye on the Olympic tournament coming later in the summer, Canada were put through a good test by a strong Brazilian side. One defensive breakdown and a moment of individual brilliance were the only things separating the two sides as Brazil ran out 2-0 winners on Saturday evening at BMO Field in Toronto, ON.
The scoring was opened by Marta in the 11th minute as she cleaned up a sloppy play in the penalty area, sweeping the ball into an empty net. She doubled the lead in the 41st minute with a long shot that rifled into the bottom right corner.
Canada set their stall out early, pressing the Brazilians and looking to win the ball high up the field. Diana Matheson and Sophie Schmidt brought a lot of energy from the midfield and Deanne Rose broke free in the first minute, posting notice that Brazil were going to have to be careful with the ball in their own half.
The 5th minute saw another demonstration of the pace of the Rose as she played a neat pass through to Janine Beckie in the middle of the park and then covered 15 yards to get into a good position for the return ball. She was behind the defensive line, but Barbara in the Brazilian net was alive to the danger and claimed the ball on the edge of her penalty area.
Brazil were pressing in numbers themselves, refusing to let the centre back pairing of Kadeisha Buchanan and Shelina Zadorsky settle on the ball. They opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Marta pounced on a loose ball in the penalty box. The initial cross from the left was cut out by Allysha Chapman but fell to another Brazilian forward. Desiree Scott was able to put in a challenge and free up the ball, but it bounced to an open area and Marta had found the space to calmly roll the ball into the open net.
Despite being a goal down, Canada grew into the game and started carving out regular chances. Canada won a free kick in the 16th minute that was looped into the box by Diana Matheson. It found the feet of Christine Sinclair, but she wasn’t able to get it out from under her and take a shot. Sophie Schmidt was picking out dangerous through balls, including in the 20th minute for Allysha Chapman, an opportunity that was only stymied by a strong challenge from Fabiana. Beckie had a volley on target blocked in the 24th minute, the cross coming from the lively Rose.
Brazil had a brief spell in control, firstly having a few chances from a 37th minute corner, ending with a ball sent in from deep on the right flank floating over a cluster of players and Labbé and landing on the laces of Thaisa. She wasn’t able to rein the ball in sufficiently to get a controlled shot off, and her attempt on the open net floated just over the bar.
A few minutes later Marta got her second goal with a low torpedo of a shot. Formiga hustled Beckie off the ball in the middle of the park. Debinha latched onto the loose ball and moved it laterally to Marta who was 25 yards out, towards the left side. She was given too much time to set herself and put a hard shot into the bottom right corner, beating an unsighted Labbé in the Canadian net.
Canada didn’t let their heads drop and came right back, Matheson starting a move by intercepting a square pass in the midfield. She worked it out to the right for Deanne Rose, whose cross was intercepted, but not cleared well. Schmidt charged it down and the ball fell kindly for Sinclair, who had the time to turn and strike a shot with her left foot. Barbara was well positioned to make a save.
Brazil had a penalty call in the added time of the first half after AdressaAlves got goal-side of Buchanan. The was a tangle of feet on the edge of the penalty area, but the referee saw no reason to call for a penalty.
Canada made two offensive changes at the half time break and came out with a lot more purpose, putting Brazil on the back foot straight away.
Some neat interplay on the right side had substitute Jessie Fleming getting involved straight away and giving Rose the space to put in a pass for Matheson who was arriving late at the top of the box. It was an awkward chance and went off target. 30 seconds later Rose was again involved, making her own time and space and picking out Christine Sinclair whose shot was sent just wide.
Canada couldn’t commit to chasing the game wholeheartedly, however, as Brazil were still on the hunt for goals. In the 53rd minute, Beatriz picked up the ball deep on the right side and drove towards goal, jinking and slaloming around two or three challenges. Her attempted finish to the far post was stonewalled by Labbé who was out to challenge well.
Sinclair was put through after a deft lofted through ball from Matheson in the 55th minute. She was always moving away from goal, however, and her shot from the left edge of the penalty are was saved and held at the near post.
Brazil had a brief period of pressure in from the 62nd minute, first winning a free kick on the right flank. The hard low cross was cleared back out to the wing by Fleming, and the second cross was put out for a corner by Schmidt. The corner was claimed confidently by Labbe, relieving the pressure.
Canada took control for 10 minutes or so, making some half chances in front of net. The Brazilian defence was well organized, however, and the goal to get them back in the game wouldn’t come.
In the 72nd minute, substitute Nichelle Prince had very nice play on the right flank, keeping the Brazilian left back on her heels. Her cross found Janine Beckie whose touch looked to have opened up some space, but Marta was on hand to deflect the ball out for a corner. Prince was dangerous from the moment she was introduced, her pace causing trouble on the right flank, and in the 76th she was able to put a solid header on target, that was well saved by Barbara.
The Brazilian goalkeeper and her centre back nearly got tangled up a few minutes later, as Diana Matheson looked to feather a through ball to a streaking Janine Beckie. Barbara eventually came out with the ball, but Canada continued to offer an offensive threat.
The game continued to open up and in the 79th minute Brazil had some sharp play on the edge of the box that saw Maurine square a pass for Andressa Alves. The Brazilian forward had the ball in the back of the net, but was deemed offside.
Canada went right up the other end and Tancredi put a cross in that was knocked down by Fleming. She left it for the advancing Beckie who struck the ball sweetly and looked to have sent the ball into the bottom right corner. Barbara was down very well, though, and got a strong hand to the shot, keeping it out.
Canada host Brazil again on Tuesday July 7th in Ottawa at Landsdowne Park. They will hope to equal their level of play today, but show some more ruthlessness in front of goal and find a way to convert the half chances they were able to craft.
There was only one yellow card issued in what was a hard but fairly contested game. Shelina Zadorsky had her name taken by match official for pulling back Raquel in the 62nd minute.
Canada’s starting XI featured Stephanie Labbé in goal, Allysha Chapman at left back, Kadeisha Buchanan and Shelina Zadorsky at centre back, and Ashley Lawrence at right back, with Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott, Janine Beckie, Deanne Rose, and Christine Sinclair (c) in midfield through to attack.
Coach John Herdman made several changes, starting with Josee Belanger replacing Allysha Chapman, and Jessie Fleming replacing Desiree Scott at halftime. In the second half Nichelle Prince replaced Deanne Rose (69), Melissa Tancredi came on for Christine Sinclair (74)
Brazil’s starting XI featured Barbara in goal, Tamires at left back, Rafaelle and Monica in central defence, and Fabiana at right back; Formiga, Thaisa, Debinha, Marta, Andressa Alves, and Beatriz were in the midfield through to the attack.
Head coach Vadão made 6 changes, starting with Darlene replacing Debinha at half time; in the second half Andressinha came on for Formiga, Raquel replaced Beatriz (60), Poliana replaced Fabiana (67), Maurine replaced Fabiana (67)