There will be three teams advancing from Group F in the Olympic Tournament. With Canada digging itself out of a 0-2 hole against Sweden through two Melissa Tancredi goals and a surprising draw between Japan and South Africa, Japan, Sweden, and Canada are all guaranteed berths in the quarterfinals.
After a strong start from Canada in the first half, it was Sweden who found the back of the net twice in quick succession. Despite the early efforts from Canada’s dynamic duo of Christine Sinclair and Melissa Tancredi, Sweden was able to escape constant pressure with Marie Hammarstrom’s close-range effort off a cross from Lina Nilsson.
It was only two minutes before Sweden doubled their lead. Hammarstrom was again involved in the scoring effort, this time drawing Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod out from her position with a cross, which was then easily put away into an empty net by Sofia Jakobsson.
The momentum shifted wildly in the closing moments of the first half, however, with Melissa Tancredi delivering the first of her two goals. After a streaking run up the right side, Rhian Wilkinson engaged in a give-and-go with Sinclair through three Swedish defenders, then crossed the ball into the box, across what seemed to be a sea of red and yellow jerseys. Tancredi came up on the far end of it and laced it past Hedvig Lindahl.
The second half started in Canada’s favor. Sweden suddenly had problems with possession and looked shaky, unable to string more than two or three passes together. Canada was able to keep solid pressure on Sweden for the first 20 minutes of the second half, with little from Sweden beyond desperate defensive measures.
Canada had a huge chance early in the half, with Matheson placing a ball neatly through the Swedish backline, giving Tancredi a one-on-one chance against Lindahl. Lindahl came up with a huge stop, but gave up the rebound right at Jonelle Filigno, who merely had to find either side of the net around the single yellow jersey blocking goal. Instead, perhaps not expecting such an opportunity, she quickly fired it directly at Sweden’s Lina Nilsson, who was able to clear it away and preserve Sweden’s lead for the moment. S
weden was unable to put away its third goal of the match as insurance against a Canada comeback, despite the efforts of Lotta Schelin who had little help from a suddenly lackluster Sweden offense.
Tancredi paved Canada’s way into the quarterfinals with her goal late in the second half. After a cross into the box from Christine Sinclair, Tancredi once again found the back of the net. This time, it was a mid-air header in traffic. There was nothing Lindahl could do but watch in dismay as the ball breezed past her exposed left side.
Canada played some of its best soccer in this match, although in the second half that was certainly helped by Sweden’s sudden inability to maintain any dangerous possession. Canada will get a major emotional boost from this game moving into the quarterfinals, and could be find themselves facing the United States in the next round. Sweden will certainly have to take a long, hard look at their play in this game and wonder how so much seemed to go wrong after Canada clawed its way onto the scoreboard.
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