VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Germany defeated Canada 2-1 at BC Place Stadium on Wednesday in front of 15,681 fans in a match that had a World Cup feel, a year before the final will be held in that stadium.
Canada had never defeated Germany in 12 previous matches, and that form held true on this occasion. Lena Lotzen opened the scoring in the first half, and a Simone Laudehr penalty in the 65th minute cancelled an earlier Sophie Schmidt tying goal. Germany pressed and gave Canada all they could handle as the hosts did well to prevent an even larger margin of victory. This was an adequate challenge for the young Canadian back-four of Canada.
Canada captain Christine Sinclair was understandably disappointed in the loss, but overall happy with the progression Canada has made.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose, but compared to the game we played against them about a year ago I think we’ve made a lot of progress,” she said. “I think last game against them we created two shots in total and I thought we did a lot better tonight.”
Coming into this match, Canada coach John Herdman and his players relayed a message that they would play this game like a potential World Cup match. Silvia Neid’s squad are one victory away in securing a trip to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and they’re flying high, sitting ranked No. 2 in the world behind the United States.
Herdman made no changes to his back-four that played in Winnipeg on May 8, and held the U.S. to a 1-1 draw. In doing so he started three teenagers in his defense alongside veteran right back Rhian Wilkinson. 16-year-old Jessie Fleming is still completing high school and has yet to complete her exams.
Canada and Germany started the match in a slow tactical battle. Neither side was wanting to make a mistake and most of the possession was played in the midfield. In the 15th minute, Canada had a terrific chance to open the scoring as Sophie Schmidt sent in a long ball into Sinclair on the left flank. Luisa Wensing was all over Sinclair as she fought to get away and get a shot on target. Nadine Angerer was able to make the save as she came out to cut down the shooting angle.
Alexandra Popp almost caught Karina LeBlanc snoozing in the 18th minute when she sent in a long distance chip from 23 yards out. The ball bounced squarely off the crossbar as the Red Stars keeper back-tracked towards her net. Germany kept coming as Anja Mittag has the next best scoring opportunity in the 23rd minute. The FC Rosengård player was in alone on LeBlanc and as she tried to round the goalkeeper, but LeBlanc was able to get her leg on Mittag’s shot.
Germany was not deterred as Silvia Neid’s team started pressuring Canada’s inexperienced trio of defender. Laudehr sent in a cross that Mittag was able to get her head on. Lotzen had snuck in via the back post and she had an easy tap in-goal as she was left unmarked.
Moments after the Lotzen goal, Bianca Schmidt had a glorious chance of her own that could have put Germany up 2-0. The Frankfurt defender sent her shot wide of the target after a terrific cross from Mittag. After a slow start to the match, the visitors really settled in and caught Canada with a quick and organized counter-attack. Nadine Angerer was tested twice in the first half, and for the most part did not have much work to do. She thought Germany were a bit unlucky tonight.
“I think we should have scored more often,” Angerer said. “That’s the only thing we are a little bit sad about, but I think we played a very good game today.”
Germany had nine shot attempts in the opening 45 minutes and both teams had four shots on target as they went into the break with Germany up 1-0.
Herdman made a significant substitution to start the second half as he replaced LeBlanc with Erin McLeod in net. Herdman has often referred to McLeod as the No.1 keeper in women’s football, so it was a surprise to not see her start the match from the opening whistle.
The ever-dangerous Mittag was in search for a goal in the 49th minute when she intercepted a poor back pass and went in alone on the Houston Dash ‘keeper. McLeod stood her ground as she was able to turn Mittag away and send her tumbling to the pitch. The Canadians seemed to gain a boost of confidence from McLeod in net, because they quickly found the equalizer in the 53rd minute.
Angerer said after the match that if this was a World Cup match she would have jumped to save the Schmidt shot. With her friends and family in the crowd, the Abbotsford native Schmidt delivered an awkward looking shot on goal that looked to be heading high and wide of the target. But instead of a goal kick for Germany, the ball sailed into the net as Nadine Angerer misjudged the flight of the ball. Canada caught a lucky and momentary break.
“I think she (Sophie Schmidt) didn’t really hit it. I knew that it was going to come to the goal, but I think if I would have jumped I would be in the hospital now because I would have definitely jumped against the post,” Angerer said. “If it had been the World Cup final, I definitely would have jumped against the post.”
Kadeisha Buchanan was whistled in the box for a challenge on Lotzen in the 65th minute, which led to the game-winning penalty. The 20-year-old Lotzen went down and referee Margaret Domka pointed to the spot to award Germany a PK. Although McLeod had been fantastic since coming on she had no chance on the penalty from Laudehr. The 27-year-old roofed the ball into the net making the score 2-1 and adding her 20th international goal for her country.
Canada did not recover from the Laudehr penalty goal. Germany was the better overall team in this match and once they got going they proved that. Canada’s back-four had their troublesome moments, but for the most part did well in what was a tremendous task. Goalkeepers LeBlanc and Erin McLeod were the best Canadians on the pitch and they bailed out Canada whenever mistakes were made at the back.
“We have some world-class goalkeepers, Erin, Karina, and Steph Labbe who’s not even here,” Sinclair said. “It gives us confidence knowing that if we happen to make a mistake, if they happen to get through us they’re going to have to produce an incredible final act to score on our goalkeepers.”
Canada Starting XI: Karina LeBlanc, Rhian Wilkinson, Kadeisha Buchanan, Rebecca Quinn, Sura Yekka; Jessie Fleming, Kaylyn Kyle; Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt, Josee Belanger; Christine Sinclair (C). (4-2-3-1)
Germany Starting XI: Nadine Angerer (C); Bianca Schmidt, Annike Krahn, Luisa Wensing, Jennifer Cramer; Nadine Keßler, Dzsenifer Marozsan; Lena Lotzen, Anja Mittag, Simone Laudehr; Alexandra Popp. (4-2-3-1)
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