New Olympics, same old story—Canada ending France’s dreams of the podium.
Canada knocked off the favored French 1-0 in Friday’s Olympics quarterfinal, four years after defeating the same team by the same scoreline in the bronze-medal match-up at London 2012.
France pressed early and could have been awarded a penalty kick in the 10th minute, when Eugenie Le Sommer went down in the penalty area. The referee waved play on, however.
Le Sommer posed an ever-present threat in the first half, though Canada’s back line limited France’s capacity to seriously threaten the goal. That dynamic changed just before halftime, however, when Canadian fullback Allysha Chapman was forced to leave the game with an apparent shoulder injury after a collision with Camile Abily.
Wendie Renard came within a whisper of opening the scoring with the final kick of the first half when her glancing header off a corner went just wide of the post.
The second half opened as a straightforward physical battle, but Canada opened the attacking floodgates in the 56th minute, when Janine Beckie chipped her defender on the right wing and sent a cross in to Sophie Schmidt, who finished on the full volley.
Just two minutes later, Christine Sinclair nearly found the back of the wrong net for the equalizer, as her defensive header bounced off the Canadian crossbar.
Despite increased urgency from the French, Canada were able to lock down the result, with Louisa Cadamuro’s long-range effort in the 76th minute representing France’s best chance in the late going.
Canada now play in the semifinals on Tuesday against Germany, who the Canadians earned a first-ever victory earlier in this tournament.
- 56’ – CAN – Sophie Schmidt (Janine Beckie)
1. BECKIE BREAKTHROUGH: It’s uncontroversial at this point to suggest 21-year-old Beckie is Canada’s brightest star of the tournament so far. With three goals in the Olympics and a world-class assist on Schmidt’s winner against France, Beckie is firmly entrenching herself as a player who could carry the attacking torch in the years to come.
2. LAYING DOWN THE LAW: It’s probably also uncontroversial to suggest that fellow 21-year-old Ashley Lawrence has firmed up her place on the squad for the foreseeable future. Despite coming up through the ranks as a central midfielder, Lawrence's technical skill and versatility have allowed her to thrive as a fullback, a role she’s recently adopted at the behest of head coach John Herdman. She actually played at both left and right back against France. Which brings us to…
3. LESS THAN FULL: Canada have lost at least one, and possibly two fullbacks for the semifinal. Josée Bélanger will be suspended after picking up her second yellow card of the tournament, while Chapman’s injury seemed serious enough to rule her out as well. Veteran fullback Marie-Eve Nault, who was on the Olympic squad in 2012, is with the team in Brazil and is on the official alternates list.
Starters: GK Stephanie Labbé; D Allysha Chapman (Josée Bélanger, 45+1’), D Shelina Zadorsky, D Kadeisha Buchanan, D Ashley Lawrence; M Sophie Schmidt (Rebecca Quinn, 81’), M Jessie Fleming, M Desiree Scott; F Janine Beckie, F Christine Sinclair (c), F Diana Matheson (Deanne Rose, 68’)
Subs not used: GK Sabrina D’Angelo, D Rhian Wilkinson, F Nichelle Prince, F Melissa Tancredi