Canada’s national women’s soccer team reached the London 2012 Olympics quarterfinals with a 2–2 draw against No. 4-ranked Sweden on Tuesday.
Canada played an excellent match and arguably deserved the win having dominated Sweden for large stretches of play. However, a couple of defensive errors early in the match saw Canada fall behind 2–0 before battling back for a draw.
Back in goal for Canada was Erin McLeod who wasn’t at her best against Japan in Canada’s first match. Karina LeBlanc played the second match and shut out South Africa.
Canada played in a 4–3–2–1 formation with Jonelle Filigno up top, supported by Melissa Tancredi and Christine Sinclair. Lauren Sesselman had to move into central defense to cover for some of the injuries, which have plagued Canada’s women’s national team.
Canada gained the very early upper hand, but Sweden was up two goals after 16 minutes. Their most dangerous attacker Lotta Schelin worked her way out of the corner and set up a nice cross that Marie Hammarstrom was able to jab past McLeod in the 12th minute.
This was a goal much against the run of play.
Sweden then capitalized on a mistake from McLeod and the Canadian defense when a cross was sent in from the left flank. McLeod dove for it and missed while the Canadian defense was unable to clear it either. The ball found Sofia Jakobsson who just had to tap it in the open net.
But Canada was not going to fall apart despite the shocking turn of events. Sweden’s physical play would not intimidate them either.
Just at the end of the first half, a nice passing play between Sinclair and Rhian Wilkinson allowed the latter to send in a cross to Tancredi. Tancredi was able to leap and volley the tricky cross into the far side of the net.
After another good start to the half by Canada, the second half settled down as Sweden attempted to take away all the space for Canada. Diana Matheson’s creativity shone on a couple of occasions as she fed accurate passes to split the Swedish defense.
Sweden nearly sealed the deal when Schelin set up Johanna Almgren but the latter side-footed the ball wide.
Shortly thereafter, in the 83rd minute, Sinclair sent another dangerous ball into the Swedish penalty box that Tancredi latched on to. Tancredi headed the ball past Hedvig Lindahl in the Swedish goal for an incredible equalizer.
The goal was Tancredi’s fourth of the tournament, making her the tournament’s leading scorer. It was another play in which Sinclair was instrumental in setting up the goal.
The match played at St. James’ Park, home of Newcastle United of the English Premier League, was a homecoming from Canadian coach John Herdman, who grew up nearby.
Canada’s fighting spirit was on full display against Sweden today after the early setback.
With the draw, Canada finished third and is through to the quarterfinals. Sweden took first place in the group after Japan was surprisingly held to a scoreless draw by South Africa.
Canada’s opponent will be Great Britain in the quarterfinals after the host nation stunned Brazil 1–0 to win their group. Sweden will face France.
In other action, the US will take on New Zealand and Brazil faces the defending World Cup champion Japan.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports
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