In the two teams’ opening match of the 2016 Olympic games, the Australian Women’s National Team (AUSWNT) fell 0-2 to the Canadian Women’s National Team (CANWNT).
With two of the top 10 teams in the world, this game was the most evenly contested match of opening day and one to watch.
The game lived up to the hype when, only 20 seconds in, Janine Beckie scored the first goal of the match in Sao Palo for Canada with an assist from Christine Sinclair. Beckie’s goal broke the record for fastest goal scored in an Olympic game, previously held by the USWNT’s Heather O’Reilly.
Australia struggled to gain control of the ball after that first goal as their passes seemed to go off target, allowing Canada to regain control. Because of the inconsistent passing, the early back-and-forth seemed to be in favor of Canada.
Michelle Heyman had a great header to Samantha Kerr in the 13th minute, but Kerr had fallen to her knees and was unable to finish. Two minutes later, Desiree Scott ran into Kerr, knocking her down, but Kerr slowly got to her feet.
Shelina Zadorsky was ejected from the game in the 19th minute after receiving a red card for fouling Aussie Michelle Heyman in the box, earning Australia a free kick. Zadorksy’s ejection resulted in Canada substituting defender Rebecca Quinn in for striker Melissa Tancredi and having to play with only 10 players for the remainder of the match. Zadorsky will also be suspended for Canada’s match against Zimbabwe on Saturday.
Another Canadian player was carded when Rhian Wilkinson fouled Kerr in the 22’ minute, and a yellow card was issued to Wilkinson.
Kerr made another shot in the 27th minute and only narrowly missed the goal as it went just slightly wide right. Labbé went down in the 30th minute with an ankle injury, but was able to continue in goal.
Australia had a wonderful shot in the 38th minute but were unable to get the ball into the back of the net. Back and forth continued, as Canada stayed mainly on their half of the field as Australia started gaining control of the ball more and more.
In the 45’ Heyman came close again to putting a ball into the back of the net, but Labbé saved. Two minutes of stoppage time were added to the first half, leaving the score at 1-0.
The second half started with subs from both teams, and with Canada still down a player. Kadeisha Buchanan was issued a yellow card in the 49’, earning Australia a free kick, but it was deflected by Canada. Australia also gained two corner kicks in the first five minutes of the second half, but Labbé punched both away with ease.
In the 54th minute, Canada got another chance after commotion inside the box to add another tally to the score, but Lydia Williams was able to save Canada from a second goal for the time being.
Canada earned a penalty kick in the 73th minute, but Beckie failed to convert as her weak shot was easily stopped by William.
However, Canada was able to strike one last time in the 80th minute when Williams came far off her line. Sinclair was able to outmaneuver her and, with no defenders close enough to clear the shot, fired a shot from distance and into the net.
Back and forth resumed for the remainder of the game and despite three minutes added to the second half, it was not enough for Australia to close the game and the score of the physical game remained 2-0 at the final whistle.
Both teams play again on Saturday, August 6 in the second match of group play. Australia takes on Germany at 2 p.m. EST, and Canada takes on Zimbabwe at 5 p.m. EST.
Australia WNT Starting Lineup
Lydia Williams; Clare Polkinghorne (C), Laura Alleway, Alanna Kennedy; Elise Kellond-Knight, Caitlin Foord, Katrina Gorry, Emily van Egmond, Chloe Logarzo (Lisa De Vanna, 61’); Michelle Heyman (Kyah Simon, 71’), Samantha Kerr (Steph Catley 46’)
Head Coach: Alen Stajcic
Canada WNT Starting Lineup
Stephanie Labbé; Ashley Lawrence, Shelina Zadorsky, Kadeisha Buchanan, Rhian Wilkinson (Allysha Chapman, 46’); Jessie Fleming, Desiree Scott, Diana Matheson (Sophie Schmidt, 69’); Janine Beckie, Christine Sinclair (C), Melissa Tancredi (Rebecca Quinn, 23’)
Head Coach: John Herdman
Canada- Beckie (Sinclair), 1'
Canada- Sinclair, 80'
Canada- Zadorsky (ejection), 18'
Canada- Wilkinson (caution), 22'
Canada- Buchanan (caution), 49'