Canada women’s national team took on Spain in the Algarve Cup final but could not repeat as champions, falling 1-0 to the European nation. It was the first time Spain had competed in the annual tournament, and their first ever trophy.
Canada started off on their front foot, with Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash) and Jordyn Huitema, 15, connecting on a cross that sent Spain’s goalkeeper Sandra Paños diving to make the save in the opening minute. Despite the quick start from Canada, it wasn’t long before Spain found their rhythm and began attacking. In just the 5th minute, Leila Ouahabi got the first opportunity on goal for Spain. Ouahabi sent her shot in from outside the box and into the top corner where Canadian keeper Steph Labbé couldn’t get to it.
The two teams engaged in strong back-and-forth, but Canada began relying on long balls over the defense to try to find an equalizer. In the 41st minute, Christine Sinclair subbed in for Huitema and the Canadian side resorted to their Olympic front three to try to make something happen. However, their efforts were futile and the game was still 1-0 at the half.
In the second half, Canada came out desperate to level the score. They created dangerous counterattacks and put a number of shots on goal. In the 61st minute, Shelina Zadorsky fired off a hard shot, but Paños was able to deny her of the goal. Moments later, Deanne Rose broke free of her defender and crossed to Sinclair, who passed to a wide open Jessie Fleming. Fleming took the shot, but it sailed high over the crossbar. Canada got off several more shots in the half, but Paños was equal to the task.
The intensity and physicality of the match increased as the clock ticked down, and both sides were awarded yellow cards as a result. John Herdman used his substitutions late in the game to add attackers to the field in a last-ditch effort, but it was not enough for Canada to find the equalizer.
Despite the upset, Canada did not walk away empty-handed, but left as the second-place team.
Australia loses to Denmark on penalties
After a 1-1 result at the end of regulation, Sky Blue FC’s Sam Kerr and the Matildas were unable to put the game away as Denmark took the bronze medal home after winning 4-1 in a penalty kick shootout.
Australia got on the board first in the 36th minute after a one-time finish by forward Kyah Simon. Midfielder Katrina Gorry worked her way down into the left side of the six towards the end line and tried to dribble past Denmark goalkeeper Stina Lykke. Lykke was able to disrupt the play, but the ricochet landed right in front of Simon, who did not hesitate to volley the ball with her laces past defender Line Røddik Hansen into the back of the net.
At the half, the Matildas held the 1-0 lead going into the locker room. However, Denmark would not stay quiet for long. In the 80th minute, Pernille Harder tied the game 1-1 after working her way free to strike a ball into the top corner.
With the score still 1-1 after regulation, the teams went straight to a penalty kick shootout to decide who would finish third in the 2017 Algarve Cup.
For Australia, the only player to convert was midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight. Attempts by Clare Polkinghorne and Kerr were both blocked by Lykke. All four players were able to score against Matilda keeper Lydia Williams, with Sanne Troelsgaard solidifying the bronze for Denmark.