It was mission accomplished for the Canada women's national team after securing a 1-0 win over China in the opening match of the 2015 Women's World Cup on Saturday at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium.
In front of 53,058 people – the largest crowd for any Canadian national team match in Canada – striker Christine Sinclair proved to be the difference maker. The captain put the game away in the 91st minute with a well-placed penalty kick, joining an elite group in the process.
Christine Sinclair is the 7th player to score at four different WWC (Lilly, Hamm, Foudy, Prinz, Sun, Wiegmann). #CAN— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 7, 2015
WAS IT A PENALTY KICK?: There was some debate whether Canada received a hometown call with the late stoppage time penalty kick. Here's the foul that led to the penalty:
This is how Canada got the penalty kick, by the way. pic.twitter.com/JNxuAuVwQM— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) June 7, 2015
Canada coach John Herdman himself admitted "that's your home-field advantage," when discussing the penalty kick. He also said that "when the call came, I celebrated like we'd just scored."
The fans at Commonwealth Stadium could not care any less judging by their reaction when the ball hit the back of the net:
Sinclair and her teammates celebrated the win like the monumental win that it was -- a group match at the biggest tournament for women's soccer in their own backyard. The three points will take some pressure off.
John Herdman on TSN: "Oh my God..." laughs. Sigh of relief for Canada.— Jeff Kassouf (@JeffKassouf) June 7, 2015
OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN: As hosts, Canada really needed the "W." But China were organized, they remained disciplined and they bunkered down in the defense, proving to be impenetrable. As China dominated the flow and interrupted Canada's rhythm, the play was frantic in the first half.
A collective gasp from those in attendance came in the 23rd minute after China's Lisi Wang struck a free kick which dramatically bounced off both posts and then went out of play (WATCH THE CRAZY PLAY HERE).
But Herdman saw his side play with a lot more composure and they wound up outshooting their opponents 14-5. But Canada could not find the back of the net until the controversial PK.
BLATTER'S MESSAGE: An hour before the opener, none other than the biggest name from this past week's news cycle -- FIFA President Sepp Blatter -- wished the 24 nations good luck. And he shared some nifty facts about the tournament:
NEXT MATCHES: Canada is back in Group A action against New Zealand on Thursday, June 11, while China take on the Netherlands earlier that same day.