The result wasn’t as lopsided as it could have been, but Canada got exactly what was expected from Zimbabwe on Saturday: Three points.
The Canadians strolled to a 3-1 win over No. 93-ranked Zimbabwe in Olympic group-stage play, all but guaranteeing their passage to the quarterfinals with one group game left to go. Canada, who beat Australia 2-0 in their opener on Wednesday, will officially clinch a spot in the quarterfinals if Germany wins or draws against Australia later on Saturday.
Janine Beckie and Christine Sinclair, who scored in the opener against Australia, picked up right where they left off. Sinclair found Beckie with a cross in the seventh minute and the youngster cleaned up her own rebound to open the scoring.
Beckie would add another before the break, with Sinclair also converting a penalty that was won by Diana Matheson. John Herdman’s side hung back somewhat in the second half, but still easily controlled the majority of possession and chances at goal.
In the dying minutes, the Zimbabweans took advantage of miscommunication in the Canadian defense to grab a goal against the run of play, their second goal of the competition following their 6-1 loss to Germany on Wednesday.
Things will look much different for the Canadian team on Tuesday, when they play their final game of the group stage against No. 2-ranked Germany, a team they’ve never beaten.
7’ – CAN – Janine Beckie
19’ – CAN – Christine Sinclair (PK)
35’ – CAN – Janine Beckie (Josée Bélanger)
86’ – ZIM – Mavis Chirandu (Marjory Nyaumwe)
- SQUAD GOALS: Three players – goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo and strikers Nichelle Prince and Deanne Rose – made their Olympic debuts against Zimbabwe. After two games, all 18 players on the squad have seen the pitch, one of head coach John Herdman’s pre-tournament goals.
- YOUTH MOVEMENT: Beckie’s brace has put the 21-year-old into the top 10 in all-time goals for the senior national team (with 12 in 22 appearances). Meanwhile, fellow Olympic newcomer Jessie Fleming, 18, also had a solid game in midfield, while 20-year-old Rebecca Quinn (aside from the confusion that led to the Zimbabwe goal) did well in her first Olympic start.
- MELLOW YELLOW: Kadeisha Buchanan refused to back up on a Zimbabwe free kick and picked up her second yellow card of the tournament, meaning she’ll miss the Germany game. But it appeared to be a tactical decision, to ensure she will be available (and have a bit of rest) for the knockout round.
Starters: Sabrina D’Angelo; Ashley Lawrence, Kadeisha Buchanan, Rebecca Quinn, Josée Bélanger; Sophie Schmidt, Diana Matheson (Allysha Chapman, 63’), Jessie Fleming (Nichelle Prince, 70’); Janine Beckie, Christine Sinclair (c), Melissa Tancredi (Deanne Rose, 61’)
Subs not used: GK Stephanie Labbé, D Rhian Wilkinson, M Desiree Scott
Unavailable: D Shelina Zadorsky (suspension)