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Knockout Round Awaits for Unbeaten Canada After Historic Victory Over Germany

Canada looks as if they can beat just about anyone after a surprise victory over the Germans sees them remain undefeated going into the knockout rounds.

Celso Junior/Getty Images

For the first 25 minutes of Canada's match today against Germany, it looked as though this one would end the way that the previous 12 meetings had. Canada, as had been often mentioned leading up to the match, had never even earned a point against Germany in international play.

The Germans earned an early penalty, comfortably slotted home by Melanie Behringer, and it looked like they would cruise to the expected top spot in Group F. They were, after all, the European Champions and second-ranked team in the world.

That all changed in the 25th minute, when Melissa Tancredi composed herself at the top of the box and fired a shot into the low corner of the German net. By the time she scored her second goal of the match, Canada had announced to the world that they were to be taken seriously in Rio.

For Tancredi, it was deja vu. At the last Olympics against Sweden, in Canada's final group stage game, she scored a pair of goals to give Canada a 2-2 draw and see them into the second round. Four years later, Tancredi not only scored another Olympic brace, she gave Canada their third straight victory and top spot in Group F.

It was a vintage performance from Tancredi, the kind that few believed she was still capable of at 34 years old. She has been a periphery player on the national team for years, but proved today exactly why John Herdman continues to trust her.

Just as she was crucial to Canada's run in 2012, Tancredi remains vital to the national team's success. Depth scoring has always been an issue for this national team, and with Christine Sinclair and Janine Beckie firing on all cylinders, Canada now has three potent attacking threats.

What made this result more impressive was that Herdman rested both Sinclair and Beckie for the match, already looking ahead to the quarterfinals. Also rested, although not by choice, was Kadeisha Buchanan who was suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

It was a team effort that filled in for her absence. Canada played their best defence of the tournament, remaining organised and compact in order to thwart several German attacks. This leaves Herdman with some difficult decisions going forward. It would seem Buchanan is a fixture at centreback, but is it Zadorsky or Quinn that plays beside her?

One thing is for certain, it would seem Stephanie Labbe has cemented her place as the starting goalkeeper. She made several key saves today, and has still only allowed one goal all tournament, coming from the penalty spot. Against two of the top five teams in the world that is impressive.

Canada was bent many times, but never broke. It was the kind of performance that if Canada could repeat, could make them successful in the knockout round. It was especially good to see them do it on the back of the new generation, even if it was Tancredi who was the player of the match.

Canada will begin the knockout stage on Friday, when they take on France, the team that they beat to win bronze in 2016. Earlier in the week, that would have seemed like a daunting task. However, after beating Germany, it would seem Canada can beat just about any team in this tournament.