In the first match of Group F, Canada faced off against Australia at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paolo on Wednesday afternoon.
It didn’t take long for the favorites to get on the scoresheet due to a defensive miscue by the Australian backline. Twenty seconds into the game, Canadian forward Christine Sinclair intercepted a weak pass and then dished the ball across the box to Janine Beckie for the easy finish and early lead. It was the fastest goal in the history of the Women’s Olympic tournament. (The previous record was held by U.S. forward Heather O’Reilly who scored forty-two seconds into the game vs. New Zealand in London 2012).
In the 15th, after a fairly even stretch of play between both sides, a long pass through the middle of the field sent Australia’s Samantha Kerr on a breakaway but her attempt was easily saved by Stephanie Labbe, Canada’s 29-year old goalie.
Australia took control of the match after Canadian defender Shelina Zadorsky was sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity in the 18th minute. After a long ball was played over the Canadian backline, Zadorsky dragged down Australian forward Michelle Heyman, leaving the referee with no choice but to show the red card.
On the ensuing free kick in the 20th minute, midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight of Australia nearly captured the equalizer as she curled a free kick off the crossbar, arguably the best chance of the first half for the Aussies.
Playing shorthanded, Canadian head coach John Herdman decided to make defensive-minded substitutions in the 23rd minute and at halftime, bringing on Rebecca Quinn for forward Melissa Tancredi and defender Allysha Chapman for Rhian Wilkinson.
Australia continued to push for the tying-goal in the second half as Katrina Gorry fired a shot from long range in the 51st minute that was parried over the crossbar by Stephanie Labbe.
In the 73rd minute, after a penalty kick was awarded to Canada after a handball in the box by Australia’s Caitlin Foord, Janine Beckie attempted to put the game away for the favorites. However, her shot was saved by Australia’s goalie Lydia Williams.
While Australia brought on Lisa De Vanna to continue the pressure on Canada and find the tyin goal, it was to no avail. On the counter attack in the 80th minute, Christine Sinclair made it 2-0 for Canada as she beat Williams to the ball and then fired the ball into the open-net from long distance.
Canada’s next match is August 6th at 3pm against Zimbabwe while Australia takes on Germany at 6pm on the same day. Both matches are at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paolo.