Canada’s Women’s National Team puts on a show

soccer women

Canada hosted 2016 Olympic hosts Brazil for the second time in four days, puling out a late 1-0 win at  Landsdowne Stadium in Ottawa, ON on Tuesday June 7th.

Canada’s last warm-up game before heading to Rio will be against France on the 23rd June.

The only goal of the game was delivered with it’s last kick.

A ball forward from Stephanie Labbé was cleared by the Brazilian defence but returned by Josée Bélanger, whose header was into the feet of Diana Matheson. She spun on the ball and deftly feathered a pass over the top of the defence for Janine Beckie to run onto. Luciana was caught in no man’s land, and the young Canadian forward kept her composure to loft the finish over the substitute keeper and into the open net.

Both teams were looking to put pressure on the ball throughout the game, picking and choosing certain areas to hunt the ball more fervently than others. Canada were getting a lot of joy down the left side where Lawrence and Rose were making short work of the Brazil right back. Matheson started brightly on the right side, and Fleming and Schmidt were providing patient, incisive passing in the middle of the park.

Christine Sinclair was dropping much deeper this game, both bringing herself into the game, and pulling the Brazilian backline further out of their own end. Barbara was always alive to balls over the top, but Canada would create a lot of opportunities with their pacey forwards getting behind the defence, particularly as the game went on.

Buchanan was intercepting clearances aggressively in an effort to keep Canada on the front foot, and they went through several periods of domination.

Similarly, Brazil’s front six were selective with their pressure, largely choosing to close down lightly deeper than the previous match, allowing Buchanan and Shelina Zadorsky more time on the ball, and letting them shorten the field with more confidence.

Brazil were getting joy on the flanks, particularly the right side in the early goings of the match. They threatened in the 3rd minute when some clever, technical interplay on that flank ended up with Andressa Alves being free in the penalty box on the left side. Kadeisha Buchanan had done well to push her out and wide and make it a tricky chance, and the shot ended up high over the bar.

Canada’s first sight of goal came in the 8th minute, utilizing their combination play up the centre of the park. Sophie Schmidt passed into the feet of Christine Sinclair who had dropped close to her midfield. She turned her challenger with ease and released Jessie Fleming into space in front of the defence. The youngster chanced her arm from distance, and her attempt looked like it was creeping into the bottom left corner but went just wide.  

The game was open from the beginning, both form open play and set-pieces. In the 18th, Matheson floated in a ball from a free kick on the left flank that was knocked on by Buchanan. It sat up oddly for Zadorsky at the back post, who managed to rein it in enough to fire it back across the face of goal. Buchanan had done well to chase in and got to the ball, but it was at an awkward height and she could only guide it over the bar.

Brazil were struggling to mount any serious attacks and in the 22nd minute Cristiane could only muster a long range attempt that looped right to Labbé.

Canada broke up the other end from that chance and Matheson flicked a ball on nicely to get Sinclair isolated against a centre back. She cut in from the right edge of the box and took a shot with her left from the edge of the box that was easily saved.

The best play in the first half from both sides came in the 23rd minute. Jessie Fleming played a great ball forward to find Deanne Rose in oceans of space. She pushed on at goal but Barbara was out well to make a good save. The ball bounced out into a dangerous area with Matheson bearing down on it, but Bruna was across to make a vital tackle to deny the veteran a goal.

Labbé showed her increased confidence since the previous game with two confident claims on balls into her area; the first in the 34th minute when Poliana snuck by the defenders and whipping across a ball. The second in the 35th, plucking a free kick out of the air with a lot of authority.

In the middle of some sustained Brazilian pressure, Fleming was back defending and helped sweep up a loose play in the 36th minute. She looked up and saw Matheson and Sinclair in space 40 yards ahead of her. The long ball would have put Matheson behind the defensive line, but it took a sticky bounce and allowed Bruna to and Erika to recover their position. Matheson saw Barbara off her line and went for the long attempt, but didn’t really commit to the shot, and the ball was saved.

Brazil kept up the pressure and in the 40th minute, Darlene was fed by a great ball in from Alves. It was looped straight down the middle of the field and she timed her run perfectly to get behind Zadorsky. Labbé rushed out and forced Darlene into a rushed shot that was put over.

Canada started early in the second half, Matheson doing well to win the ball high in the first minute, her squared ball for Rose being cut out well by Erika. A minute later a free kick was sent in from deep on the left side and met by Deanne Rose at the top of the box. Her looping header initially seemed harmless, but looked more and more dangerous as it neared goal. Eventually it bounced just wide.

Brazil weren’t lying down, Darlene showing her creativity with a wonderful reverse ball to put in Alves behind the defence. Her attempted shot wasn’t kept down though, and sent high over the bar.

51st minute saw some great skill from Thaisa to get away from Schmidt in the midfield. Her pass out left found Alves in some space, but the Brazilian appeared to be in two minds and her ball in wasn’t sharp enough to be a shot or close enough to her team mates to be a cross. Labbé still had to remain focused, but claimed it easily enough.

In the 55th minute, Canada got a little mixed up and Brazil were free down the left and looking dangerous. Zadorsky did very well to cut out the centreing pass and from that intervention, Christine Sinclair released Matheson behind the Brazilian defence with a long ball. Barbara was out quickly, missing the ball, but taking the man and earning a yellow card for her troubles.

Sinclair stood up for the free kick and sent a powerful strike on net, looking to beat the Brazilian keeper at the right post. Barbara was alive to it though, and got her fingers to it to give up the corner but keep the score level.

The 67th minute saw a battle down the right wing, Debinha showing great skill to take the ball one side of Chapman and then the other. The ball broke to the touchline where the Brazilian arrowed it across the goal. Alves was lurking in Buchanan’s blind spot and cut across the front of the defender, meeting the ball at the near post. Her attempt caught Labbé off her line, but looped up and over the bar, settling in the top of the net.

In the 70th minute Canada started to release some pressure and find more space behind the Brazil defence. Lawrence got it to Sinclair who moved it on to the feet of Beckie. She looked up and played a return pass through that Sinclair was almost able to reach. Barbara was, as ever, quick off her line and bundled the ball out of harms way.

Brazil still posed a threat and in the 76th Alves, who had been busy all night, found herself in space on the left side. Her ball across found Raquelle in a dangerous position inside the box, but the shot was weak in the end and Labbé saved with minimal fuss.

In the 77th minute, Schmidt nicked the ball off Marta’s toe in midfield and spotted a streaking Nichelle Prince up the right wing. She played the pass perfectly and Prince drove at goal, joined by Matheson and Sinclair. Her ball into the space towards the back post was an inviting one, but out of the reach of Sinclair.

Great ball from Prince in the 82nd minute, when she found Bélanger, who had made a terrific run. The substitute right back was in space and had Melissa Tancredi in the middle, staying onside and providing an option. She looked to square it, but scuffed the pass slightly, and the covering Bruna blocked it out for a corner.

The corner was sent in and met on the volley by the outside of Sophie Schmidt’s left boot. It was going in but for the intervention of Barbara who flew across the goalmouth to keep it out and give up another corner that ultimately came to nothing.

The 89th minute and Canada were again exploiting the acres of space behind the Brazilian defence. Schmidt weighted the through ball down the left channel perfectly, and Beckie outpaced Poliana with ease, her first touch taking her across the defender and into space. The forward looked to slide the ball across to the opposite corner, but Barbara stayed on her feet and made the save.

Towards the end of the game, in the 90th minute, Ashley Lawrence span well in the slot, quickly moving the ball on and finding Janine Beckie in a lot of space on the left side of the penalty area. She looked to cut back inside, but couldn’t wrap her foot around the ball enough to curl it into the right hand corner of the goal.

The Mexican referee did well to keep the game calm, but still had to hand out a few yellow cards. For Brazil, Barbara (57) was booked for a foul on Matheson, and for Canada, Desiree Scott (59) was booked for bringing down Andressa Alves

Canada’s starting XI featured Stephanie Labbé in goal, Ashley Lawrence at left back, Shelina Zadorsky and Kadeisha Buchanan at centre back, and Rhian Wilkinson at right back, with Desiree Scott, Sophie Schmidt Schmidt, Jessie Fleming, Deanne Rose, Christine Sinclair(C), and Diana Matheson in the midfield through to the attack.

Coach John Herdman made several changes with Jessica Fleming replacing Allysha Chapman, Desiree Scott for Janine Beckie (63), Shelina Zadorsky for Rebecca Quinn (68), Nichelle Prince for Deanne Rose (68), Rhian Wilkinson for Josée Bélanger, and Christine Sinclair for Melissa Tancredi (78)

Brazil’s starting XI featured Barbara in goal, Rafaelle at left back, Erika and Bruna at centre back, and Poliana at right back, with Thaisa, Andressinha, Debinha, Darlene, Andressa Alves, and Cristiane in midfield up to attack.

Coach Vadao made one change at half time, Rafaelle for Tamires. In the second half he changed Darlene for Raquelle