Well, the 7th ranked team beat the 9th ranked (kind of, more or less) team, it shouldn't feel like a surprise, but it kind of does. Going into the game there were plenty of question marks and doubts to go around. Great Britain hadn't conceded a goal in winning all their games in their group topping it off with a win over Brazil in a crucial game that both team would have wanted to win to avoid the world champion Japanese in the Quarter Finals. They were playing at home with a packed stadium behind them.
Canada? Well, with all that 2011 world cup haunting at least supporters minds if not their own, they stumbled through the group, with a couple of unimpressive performances, then what seemed to be a good game against Sweden, though how hard were Sweden playing was a valid question as they wouldn't have been wanting to play France. This was their first game against a quality opponent where both teams really wanted to win, and there could be no second guessing of intentions after the game. It was by no means certain that they'd rise to the challenge, recent history didn't even suggest it, never mind guarantee it.
But they did. Brilliantly. After France and Japan both won their semi finals (well played Japan, though you've got to think there's a certain psychological advantage to the French now, knowing the Japanese tried to avoid them) and the USA did the expected and clinched their spot, Canada stepped up and got the job thoroughly done.
It was an unchanged lineup from John Herdman, still no Candace Chapman at the back, Erin Mcleod still in goal ahead of a quietly injured Karina Leblanc, and with Jonelle Filigno back up front, with Christine Sinclair once again playing a deeper role behind Filigno and Melissa Tancredi.
It all worked very well, and right from the start. Canada was all over the brits, and after an earlier missed chance, it was Filigno repaying Herdman's trust with a half volley into the top corner from an obviously planned corner kick. That made it 5 out of 7 goals scored by someone other than Sinclair, the sort of secondary scoring that was always going to be key for Canada. the Brits caame right back at Canada of course, but Lauren Sesselman, once again playing at centre back stood tall, and Erin Mcleod was solid when called upon, as she was throughout the game.
The lead was doubled from a free kick in the 25th minute. It wasn't the best strike from Sinclair, certainly nowhere near as good as her free kick last summer against Germany, but with the help of a poorly positioned wall and a not much better goalkeeping effort, it snuck into the net anyway. Sinclair raced away before playing an impromptu game of human ten pin bowling, sliding on her knees into all the subs gleefully waiting on the sidelines(for the record, she brought a couple of them to their knees, if not fulyl knocked down).
After that, there wasn't that much to worry about for the Canadians, who had chances to increase their lead in the 2nd half. Desiree Scott was predictably huge in midfield disrupting and shutting down the British attack, the defence did well, Sesselman once again impressive alongside Carmelina Moscato, and Mcleod did what she needed to. Aside from a late missed penalty call on a mistimed tackle from Rhian Wilkinson, there's nothing Great Britain could really point to as bad luck. Canada just straight up outplayed a good opponent, when it really counted.
Of course next up is the big one, a semi final against Dope Solo and the rest of big bad team USA, number one in the world, and after an early sputter against the French, looking very very good so far. Canada have improved with every game so far, can they now take the next step and put in an even better performance, in an Olympic semi final, with a guaranteed medal on the line. I'm going to say yes. Though that may well not be enough to beat the Americans, I think we can at the very least put the chokers label to bed, and no matter what happens from here, the tournament can be considered a success. Hopefully they can make it even more than that.