A stoppage time goal from Sarah Stratigakis was the difference as Canada defeated Argentina 1-0 in their second match at the SheBelieves Cup on Sunday night.
For a lot of this game, Canada’s struggles were similar to those during their match against the United States a few days ago — they were solid defensively, and created a ton of chances going forward, but failed to finish them off.
In the first half, Canada kept firing crosses into the box, many from Janine Beckie on the right side, but Argentine goalkeeper Laurina Oliveros was catching everything in sight. Adriana Leon was finding space in the box, and Canada was getting in behind, but they just couldn’t find that perfect cross.
At the other end of the pitch, the Argentinian attackers had a tough time against the Canadian defenders. Even without Vanessa Gilles, the standout defender from Thursday night’s match against the States, nothing was getting past.
The back four of debutant Jade Rose, Shelina Zadorsky, Allysha Chapman and Gabrielle Carle were physical, shutting down attackers quickly, and spent a lot of their time on the pitch helping out the attack instead. Chapman and Carle in particular saw a lot of the ball going forward, and Carle impressed all night with her runs and crosses from right back.
Canada’s best chance of the first half came in the 23rd minute. After a poor clearance from an Argentine defender, the ball bounced in the box for Jessie Fleming, whose header from close range was pushed away by Oliveros.
The second half was much of the same. Canada was the dominant team, but Argentina seemed content for a draw, and sat back and defended. Between fouls and clearances, Argentina played a lot like a CONCACAF team might, which was frustrating for the team in red.
Then came on Sarah Stratigakis. Replacing Jade Rose in the 73rd minute, she instantly upped the tempo in midfield. The 21-year-old, making her first appearance for Canada since the 2015 Pan-Am Games, was in the right place at the right time in the 92nd minute as the ball bounced around the penalty area following a Janine Beckie free kick.
After a failed clearance from an Argentine defender, the ball briefly fell right in front of the goalkeeper before Stratigakis dived in and poked the ball into the net.
It was a deserved goal for Canada, and sees them pick up all three points after an impressive all-around display.
They’ll be frustrated that it took them so long to find the elusive first goal of this match, but what matters most is that they got it, not when or how they scored it.
Canada often looks like a dangerous team but has been struggling to put the ball in the back of the net without Christine Sinclair and Jordyn Huitema. It’ll be interesting to see who Bev Priestman starts up top in the match against Brazil on Wednesday. Evelyne Viens, who scores for fun at the club level, has come off the bench twice in this tournament, so that game may be a great opportunity to see what she can do in a potential first Canada start.
Several Canadians made their debuts on Sunday night — Jordyn Listro and Jade Rose started, and Samantha Chang replaced Listro in the second half. Quite the contrast to Sophie Schmidt, the captain for the night, who was making her 201st appearance after reaching the 200 milestone a few nights ago.
Canada finishes their run at the 2021 SheBelieves Cup with the aforementioned game against Brazil on Wednesday night. Kickoff is at 4 pm EST on OneSoccer.