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Canada overpowers France in epic win at Rio 2016

Last Updated Aug 12, 2016 at 7:14 pm PDT

(Courtesy Canada Soccer)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (NEWS 1130) – The last time Canada and France met at the Olympics, the Canadians left the 2012 London Games with a historic bronze medal around their necks.

While the French may have had redemption on their minds on Friday night in Sao Paulo, the Canadians were only looking forward—not backwards.

Here are my three takeaways from Canada’s 1-0 quarterfinal victory over France at Rio 2016, as the Reds maintained their perfect record:

Tentative opening half
Both sides appeared to be a little disjointed to start things off. That’s understandable though; when you’re playing a do-or-die match, you’re often worried about making the first mistake that could cost your team.

The Canadians were lucky not to have a penalty called against them at the 10-minute mark when defender Kadeisha Buchanan took down French attacker Eugénie Le Sommer inside the 18-yard box. Really, it should have been a penalty, but the referee waived play on.

Canada’s performance in the opening half lacked the gusto and momentum they built through their group stage matches. The Reds were yearning for someone to grab the reigns, to take charge. Luckily, someone did step up in the closing 45 minutes.

 

Forging ahead
Janine Beckie has already shown sublime finishing at this tournament, but in Friday’s quarterfinal, her playmaking ability took centre stage.

Early in the second half, Beckie found herself with the ball deep in the final third with only French defender Sakina Karchaoui standing in the way between her and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi. Instead of going 1-v-1 with Karchaoui or taking a shot from distance, the Canadian youngster neatly flicked the ball from her left foot to her right, and then delivered an inch perfect ball for teammate Sophie Schmidt, who was left unmarked at the top of the six-yard box. Schmidt did the rest, putting away her first Olympic goal on a highlight reel worthy volley.

What exactly did coach John Herdman tell his troops in the locker room at halftime? We may never know, but something changed with the Canadian players in that final 45 minutes. They were able to take the lead, keep France at bay and weather everything thrown at them. That’s exactly how Canada played against Australia, Zimbabwe and Germany in the group stage.

The emotions from the Canadians in the post-game celebrations proved just how much this win meant. They were able to fight through the adversity of a shaky start and power their way to a memorable win. Now they’ll play for an Olympic medal!

 


Costly injury to Chapman
Losing Allysha Chapman to injury late in the opening half was a tough pill to swallow. The left fullback was Canada’s standout player to that point, as much of the team’s sustained pressure came through her.

Chapman used her strength and speed to take the ball up the flank to create something in attack. She has a knack of angling in crosses deep to her forwards and midfielders. At the same time, she uses her strength defensively, both with her tackles and marking.

While we await word on the severity of her injury, the thought of Canada being without her for the rest of the tournament is unnerving. Josée Bélanger, who came on as a substitute for Chapman, earned her second yellow card and she’ll be suspended for the semifinals. Herdman will have to tap into his depth to see the team through on the back line.