Canada clinched a spot in the Rio Olympic women’s soccer quarter-finals Saturday after a convincing 3-1 victory over Zimbabwe. By Joe Pack, CBC Sports
All three Canadian goals came in the first half. Janine Beckie scored twice, and captain
After defeating Australia in its Olympic opener, Canada’s perfect 2-0-0 record is enough to push it into the quarters, which begin on Friday.
“Job done for Canada with the result,” said head coach John Herdman. “It was crucial that we came out of these first two games with six points. It really put us in the driving seat going into that third game, around our [player] resting strategy.
“These tournaments are brutal with the [short] turnaround and the travel that catches up on players. So it puts us in a good situation to have a good go at Germany. There’s some history to be made there. And to give rest where it’s needed to players that have been putting big shifts in.”
Beckie and Sinclair — the same combination that put Canada on the board just 21 seconds into its opener Wednesday — came together again early in Saturday’s match. Sinclair sent a pass into the box and Beckie converted on her own rebound.
With Canada pressing minutes later, Zimbabwe goaltender Chido Dzingirai fouled Sinclair, giving the veteran a penalty shot. She scored easily, recording her 164th international goal — second all-time to American Abby Wambach.
It was Sinclair’s 10th Olympic goal, moving her past former Germany international Brigit Prinz into second all-time. Brazil’s Cristiane leads the way with 13 Olympic goals entering Saturday.
Beckie added her second of the match and third of the tournament in the 35th minute when she slammed home a cross behind Dzingirai to put Canada up 3-0 at the half.
Though the crowd in Rio’s Corinthians Arena was loudly in favour of Zimbabwe, ball possession was dominated by Canada, which held the ball for 61 per cent of the contest and recorded 11 shots on goal to Zimbabwe’s one.
“It’s nice to play with people actually cheering, no matter who they’re cheering for, and people that are involved,” said veteran striker Melissa Tancredi.
Zimbabwe showed flashes of individual talent but wasn’t able to string together plays leading to scoring chances. Their side was able to score late in the match when Canadian goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo came well out to challenge and Mavis Chirandu booted home an easy marker in the 86th minute.
Marjory Nyaumwe shot just wide in stoppage time as the underdogs finished with a flourish. After the final whistle, the crowd of 30,295 chanted “Zimbabawe, Zimbabwe.” The Canadians were all but ignored.
Zimbabwe, making its Olympic debut, has now been outscored 9-2 in two games.
Canada’s Jessie Fleming received a yellow card in the second half, and in an ensuing conversation with the referee, Kadeisha Buchanan was handed a yellow card herself, her second of the tournament — meaning she will have to miss Canada’s final preliminary match against Germany on Tuesday.