Beating Germany once at the Olympics was big for Canada, but doing it twice ultimately proved too tall a task.
Germany defeated Canada 2-0 in an Olympic semifinals showdown at Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, one week after a group-stage upset had given head coach John Herdman’s Canadian side its first-ever result against the two-time Women’s World Cup champions. The semifinal win was Germany’s 13th in 14 all-time match-ups between the two countries.
The game’s first chance came to Canada after 12 minutes, when fullback Ashley Lawrence found herself in space on the left wing and floated an inch-perfect cross to Janine Beckie, whose close-range header hit the side netting.
But just like in the teams’ first meeting in the group stage, Melanie Behringer got Germany on the scoreboard first with an early penalty kick. Kadeisha Buchanan took down Alexandra Popp with a challenge at the edge of the area, and Behringer stepped up to convert her tournament-leading fifth goal of the Rio Games.
Buchanan nearly atoned just before halftime when she got her head to a corner kick, but the would-be equalizer was cleared off the line.
Germany doubled the lead after an hour, when Anja Mittag’s flick-on found Sara Dabritz at the top of the area and the 21-year-old coolly stroked a low shot into the corner of the Canadian goal.
Diana Matheson then came off the bench and immediately added a spark for Les Rouges, as Canada began feverishly chasing the game. She’d get the Canadians’ best opportunity, when a Jessie Fleming through ball put her alone on goal, but German goalkeeper Almuth Schult did well to deny the chance.
Despite some wild scrambles in the German penalty area in the game’s closing minutes, the Canadians couldn’t find a breakthrough and were knocked out.
The Olympic medal standings will be decided on Friday, when Germany and Sweden meet to decide gold and silver, while Canada and host Brazil fight for the bronze.
- 21’ – GER – Melanie Behringer (PK)
- 59’ – GER – Sara Dabritz (Anja Mittag)
- Full box score
- Watch highlights
1. BACK ATTACK. Canada’s defense had it tough against the powerful Germans. The absences of Allysha Chapman (injury) and Josee Belanger (suspension) meant a start for veteran Rhian Wilkinson, who looked a bit rusty on several German opportunities. In the middle of defense, Kadeisha Buchanan picked up her fourth yellow card in four games in the competition, and in this case it was for a rash tackle that gave Germany an early spot kick.
2. START IT UP. There are few activities in soccer more common than second-guessing the manager’s tactical decisions after a suboptimal result. Melissa Tancredi earned the start after a brace against Germany a week ago, but was lucky not to be sent off after expressing some physical frustration late in the semifinal. Meanwhile, the exclusion of Diana Matheson from Canada’s XI had some fans scratching their heads.
3. YOUNG GUNS. The Canadian team put in a gutsy performance in the semifinal, as it had in posting four wins earlier in the competition. Much of that fight came from the addition of a group of Olympic newcomers, all of whom solidified their spots on the senior team during the tournament. Those players were Janine Beckie (21 years old), Ashley Lawrence (21), Jessie Fleming (18) and Deanne Rose (17).
Starters: GK Stephanie Labbe; D Ashley Lawrence, D Shelina Zadorsky, D Kadeisha Buchanan, D Rhian Wilkinson (Diana Matheson, 60’); M Sophie Schmidt, M Jessie Fleming, M Desiree Scott (Deanne Rose, 74’); F Janine Beckie, F Christine Sinclair (c), F Melissa Tancredi (Nichelle Prince, 85’)
Subs not used: GK Sabrina D’Angelo, D Allysha Chapman, D Rebecca Quinn
Unavailable: D/F Josee Belanger (suspension)