PRE – Canada will try to will their way into the semi-final against England after four largely uninspiring performances thus far at the WWC. John Herdman’s side sputtered through the group stages but were able to handle Switzerland fine enough in what looked like a tricky Round of Sixteen match. England will not be as easy an out after the side’s confidence boosting win over Norway in the previous round. Their reputation as slow starters has lingered though, and letting Canada in with an early lead here could make for a disappointing night for the Three Lionesses.
5′ – First half-chance for Canada, as they get a free kick on the far sideline and loft it into the box. Bardsley way off her line to punch and manages to get enough on it to clear the danger.
8′ – That’s absolutely brilliant from Christine Sinclair. She takes a pass from Schmidt near the center stripe at the near sideline and nutmegs both Bassett and Williams before cutting inside and playing a perfect diagonal ball into the stride of Tancredi. Tancredi creates space and shoots just inside the area but shoots over. Huge let off for England.
11′ – GOAL – England (Taylor) – That’s some humiliating defending from England. Scott plays an innocuous backpass to Sesselmann, who somehow trips/slips while trying to pass, letting Taylor in with a big chance to score. She goes forward then cuts outside to send a charging Chapman to the deck. As she gets to the arc, Taylor shoots low and hard to the far post, around Buchanan, under McLeod, and inside the far post. Lethal finishing, poisonous defending.
14′ – GOAL – England (Bronze) – The hosts are in all sorts of trouble now. A long free kick goes to the far post, where Bronze and Chapman battle 1v1. The Canadian full-back stumbles down, and Bronze puts a header over McLeod and off the underside of the bar and in. Shocking start for Canada.
18′ – Another chance goes begging for Canada. Schmidt whips in a free kick from the far flank, and Tancredi leaps centrally at the six with a free header but puts it over the bar. Wasteful.
22′ – Bloody hell, Sesselmann is a walking disaster of a footballer. England try to chip it over the Canadian line, and it’s not an accurate attempt, so Sesselmann should easily control and get the danger away. Instead, she lets it roll and hesitantly hacks it away, with it going behind for a corner.
28′ – Another close shave for Canada. Off a free kick from the near sideline, Williams swings it right into the box, where it’s headed across the face of goal and off the top of the bar as McLeod tries to cover. Canada eventually get it away.
30′ – Scott hits a long ball into the corner for Belanger. The winger cuts back and crosses towards the penalty spot for Sinclair. Sinclair jumps and manages to get a head on it but sends it well wide.
34′ – Shortly after Sinclair has a shot blocked behind after a scramble in the box, Schmidt gets to swing over a corner. Schmidt seemingly thinks “olimpico” with a direct effort, but Bardsley punches away.
41′ – GOAL – Canada (Sinclair) – Canada back in it off a howler from Bardsley. Sinclair passes from the arc to a posted up Lawrence, with the collegian spinning around Bronze before firing a dipping shot that Bardsley saves and fumbles. It falls right to Sinclair’s feet at the six, and she makes no mistake with the gift. That was very much the bad Bardsley showing up.
HT – This was looking like fait accompli after that quick double shot of goals from England early, but Canada have dragged themselves back in it after Sinclair’s late goal. The question is whether the home side can maintain that momentum coming out of the half and find an equalizer. You have to wonder if Herdman will make changes in defense as well, as England will likely be back on the front foot out of the half to try and kill this one off as soon as they can.
48′ – Carney has the half’s first decent chance, sending a shot from range whistling over the bar. You get the feeling a third from England would seal this one up.
51′ – SUB – Bizarre. Completely and utterly bizarre. Karen Bardsley is forced off because of some type of reaction with her eye which is swelling up gruesomely as the trainers indicate she needs a sub. Siobhan Chamberlain comes on to take her place in goal.
55′ – Carney dispossesses Schmidt at midfield and goes on a pulsating run into the area. She passes off to Taylor who aims for the far post with a shot that makes McLeod tip wide at full stretch.
57′ – Houghton backpasses to Chamberlain in goal, but pressure from Belanger forces the keeper into a shanked clearance into touch. Would expect Canada to test the reserve keeper early and often.
62′ – England are playing with fire. Houghton dawdles on the ball at the edge of her own area, letting Sinclair swoop in and take it. It falls to Tancredi, whose slow dribbling makes it plainly easy for England to get possession back and clear.
62′ – SUB – Time to risk it all for Canada, as they bring off Wilkinson, with Diana Matheson getting a raucous ovation as she returns from injury.
63′ – YELLOW CARD – England (Moore) – Jade Moore body blocks Chapman to knock her off the ball and is booked. It gives Canada a dangerous free kick.
64′ – It’s all Sinclair, and she curls it over the bar.
71′ – Bronze evades Lawrence for long enough to loft a cross towards the six that McLeod leaps up and grabs.
71′ – SUB – The not-too-good Tancredi comes off for Adriana Leon for Canada.
76′ – England win a free kick about twenty-two yards out from goal. Houghton takes it directly and shoots, but McLeod sees it well and saves and holds.
77′ – SUB – Final change for Canada. Off comes Scott, in comes Kaylyn Kyle. Meh.
79′ – SUB – England have left it pretty late to make their second sub, and they take off Fara Williams with it, bringing on Ellen White in her place.
82′ – Leon dribbles into space and plays a one-two with Chapman as she cuts inside into the area. She plays it around Houghton, but the English defense swarms and clears away a ball that trickles past Chamberlain.
83′ – That was probably the chance. Leon crosses towards the six, and Schmidt darts in to volley but hammers her shot impossibly high.
86′ – Canada have the ball exactly where it doesn’t need to be: in their own final third. England chip it towards the endline and Taylor, who hurries to catch up to it and can’t get it on target from an impossible angle.
88′ – Belanger tries for a cross/shot from range to the near post, but Chamberlain catches well.
90′ – Canada win a corner and drive it towards the penalty spot. Sinclair does manage to get a head to it, but she doesn’t get much power on it, with it drifting wide. Time’s running out on the hosts.
90′ + 2′ – Oy. Canada get a free kick just past midfield. McLeod comes up to take it but doesn’t even get it to the arc as Canada are forced back.
90′ + 3′ – YELLOW CARD (Sesselmann) – Long bouncing ball by England towards the box sees Sesselmann hold Taylor back. She’s booked for the foul and really should be sent off, as she’s the last player for Canada. And she complains about it, because, really.
90′ + 3′ – SUB – England just wasting time now, with Casey Stoney coming on for Carney.
90′ + 4′ – Houghton shoots directly and over with the free kick instead of taking it to the corner. I’d say it could prove costly, but Chapman shanks a long ball seconds later to gift possession back to England.
FT – Canada came out flat and paid the price as England pounced on mistakes to rush out to a 2-0 lead and did enough to survive the push from the hosts down the stretch. The home side had a handful of chances to peg England back but just lacked the quality in the final third to make the comeback. Combine that with a mistake prone defense, and it’s hardly a shock that England advanced. Mark Sampson’s side continue to impress with another excellent showing and look like a side that can challenge Japan in the semi-final.