A Canada 2:0 win has kicked off the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after a memorable match in São Paulo, Brazil. Janine Beckie and Christine Sinclair were the goalscorers as #CanadaRED earned the maximum three points despite playing more than 70 minutes with just 10 players.
Beckie scored the first goal in an Olympic-record 21 seconds, coolly slotting home a pass from her captain Christine Sinclair. The captain then added the second in the 80th minute after Kadeisha Buchanan made a wonderful block at the other end and Jessie Fleming knocked it down pitch for the 2-0 lead.
“It was a dream start,” said captain Sinclair. “I don’t think we could have drawn it up better for us. I am super proud of our team – the fight we showed and the spirit. It was a huge win for us.”
Canada return to the Olympic pitch in three days to face Zimbabwe on Saturday 6 August, with the match to be broadcast live on Canada’s Olympic Network CBC TV and Radio-Canada starting at 14.00 ET / 11.00 PT (15.00 local). It will also be streamed via CBC’s App for Rio2016 in French and English (available for download for iOS and Android).
It was classic Sinclair at her best on the second goal – the ninth of her Olympic career. After the long pass forward from Fleming, Sinclair deftly touched it past goalkeeper Lydia Williams and then beat Lisa De Vanna to the ball to direct her shot into the empty net.
The match had a little bit of everything, keeping a nation captivated on the edge of their seats for the full 90 minutes. Canada were reduced to 10 players in the 19th minute after Shelina Zadorsky drew a red card for a foul on Michelle Heyman. Elise Kellond-Knight then hit the crossbar on the ensuing free kick while Alanna Kennedy hit the post late in the second half. At the other end, Canada had a Janine Beckie penalty stopped by Australia’s Williams.
In the 75th minute, Jessie Fleming fired a shot that slipped through Williams’ fingers and went between her legs towards goal, but Australia’s Laura Alleway cleared the chance from the line. The Sinclair goal in the 80th minute finally gave Canada a bit of breathing room through to the final whistle.
“Records are records and they are exciting, but we pulled out the win and that was the important thing,” said goalscorer Beckie of her opening-minute goal. “We felt like we had the fans behind us. We couldn’t have asked for a better atmosphere in which to play.”
Beckie is Canada’s 2016 offensive leader with seven goals and two assists in 12 matches. Sinclair, meanwhile, now has five goals and four assists in 14 matches this year, with 163 career international goals in 246 matches.
This marks Canada’s third consecutive participation at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. Four years ago at London 2012, Canada won a historic bronze medal, the nation’s first in a summer team sport since 1936.