Another one-goal game, another dramatic finish, and another Olympic bronze medal for Canada.
Canada defeated Brazil 2-1 in Friday’s bronze-medal match at the Rio Olympics, four years after beating France 1-0 in a nail-biting bronze-medal match at London 2012.
It was a sold-out, raucous atmosphere at Arena Corinthians, but the Canadian team came out strong, just like they did the last time they faced such a partisan crowd (nearly 74,000 German fans in the opener of the 2011 Women’s World Cup).
Christine Sinclair scored a masterful free kick goal in that World Cup game, and nearly replicated it in the early going against Brazil, sending a ninth-minute set-piece rocket off the crossbar.
A pair of Canadian youngsters would silence the hometown crowd after 25 minutes, when Ashley Lawrence’s brilliant 50-yard counterattacking run led to a goal-mouth cross that was converted by 17-year-old striker Deanne Rose.
The kids turned providers early in the second half, when clever footwork from 18-year-old Jessie Fleming put Rose in behind the Brazilian defense, and she found Sinclair in front of goal for the veteran’s 165th career national-team goal.
The Brazilian crowd was roused back into full voice in the 79th minute, when Erika’s flick-on from a throw-in found Beatriz, who slotted home her third goal of the tournament. Thus ensued a frantic final 10 minutes, with Brazil pressing hard and Canada’s defense – as it had for most of the tournament– holding firm.
Canada finish the tournament with a record of five wins and one loss (the semifinal against Germany), their best-ever showing at an Olympic Games or senior World Cup.
- 25’ – CAN – Deanne Rose (Ashley Lawrence)
- 51’ – CAN – Christine Sinclair (Deanne Rose, Jessie Fleming)
- 79’ – BRA – Beatriz (Erika)
- Full stats
- Box score
- DEFENSE WINS BRONZES: Kadeisha Buchanan put in a big shift at center back, after some shaky performances early in the competition. That return to her regular fine form – along with the return of Josée Bélanger – helped shore up the backline and allow the Canadian team to repel the relentless Brazilian attack.
- THE FUTURE IS NOW: It’s been a recurring theme in these Olympics, but youth was definitely well served in the bronze-medal match. Rose’s heroics were complemented by yet another set of outstanding efforts from Fleming and 21-year-old Lawrence. Unlike in London 2012, when the bronze medal seemed like a delightful anomaly, this team is full of players who will just be hitting their peaks when the next World Cup and Olympics come around.
- SWAN SONG?: With her hard-hat-wearing father watching from the stands in Sao Paulo, 34-year-old Melissa Tancredi applauded the crowd as she walked off the field for potentially the final time in a Canadian jersey. The striker has racked up 27 goals (fifth most all-time) in 124 national-team appearances for Canada, including a vital brace that lifted Canada to their first-ever victory over Germany at these Olympics.
Starters: GK Stephanie Labbé, D Ashley Lawrence, D Shelina Zadorsky, D Kadeisha Buchanan, D Josée Bélanger M Diana Matheson (Sophie Schmidt, 66’), M Jessie Fleming, M Desiree Scott, F Deanne Rose (Allysha Chapman, 59’), F Christine Sinclair (c), F Melissa Tancredi (Janine Beckie, 69’)
Subs not used: GK Sabrina D’Angelo, D Rhian Wilkinson, D Rebecca Quinn, F Nichelle Prince