TORONTO, Canada—The Canadian women’s national team are moving on at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with a win on penalty kicks over Brazil in the quarter-finals Friday morning.
Canada remains undefeated at the Olympic Games this year, and their triumph on Friday marks the third consecutive time that Canada has advanced to the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament semifinals. In fact, Canada is the only nation in the world to reach the podium at both London 2012 and Rio 2016 in women’s football, and the team is hoping to make history by getting back on the podium for a third consecutive time.
“Really proud of the resilient performance that the group put in. They went right to the very end, and I’ve said all tournament that big players step up in big moments, and I had no doubt in my mind in that moment that the penalty was going to be saved,” said Bev Priestman, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team Head Coach, in a press release. “Just over the moon, a really great Canadian performance and Canadian moment.”
Canada and Brazil were engaged in a defensive battle in this one, but the match started off with a scare for Les Rouges. Early in the first half, Captain Christine Sinclair stayed down after hitting her head on Kadeisha Buchanan’s knee defending in the box. Fortunately, Sinclair was able to continue following concussion protocols.
Overall, the first half was uneventful, as Ashley Lawrence and Jessie Fleming defended well throughout the opening 45, each with vital interventions at multiple key moments of Brazilian attack.
The second half provided Canada’s best chance to score from open play when in the 59’ Janine Beckie whipped in a free kick that Vanessa Gilles put off the Brazillian crossbar, coming ever so close to giving her side the lead. Brazil had a chance in the 71’ but Labbé — who was outstanding in this one — was up to the task.
In extra time, the best chance of perhaps the match fell to Brazil with Vanessa Gilles — who has had a fantastic tournament at the back — coming up with a key block in the 113’ to ensure the game stayed tied a zeros.
After the fulltime whistle, the match would head to penalties. Canada stepped up to shoot first with Sinclair’s shot saved. Marta converted for Brazil with Jessie Fleming doing the same for Canada. Debinha, Ashley Lawrence, Erika, Adriana Leon, and Vanessa Gilles each scored before Labbé made her mark stopping two shots — including a clutch final save — to earn Canada the 0:0 (4:3) victory to secure their place in the Olympic semifinals where they will face the USA in a rematch from 2012.
STEPH LABBE COMING IN CLUTCH— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) July 30, 2021
Makes the critical save and Canada moves onto the semifinals after beating Brazil in penalty kicks pic.twitter.com/y3FNEf3vzs
“What a performance by the team. Defensively we were solid against some of the best strikers in the world. That’s what the Olympics are about, these tight games that bring out performances that make us really proud,” said Stephanie Labbé. “I’m so proud of the team in front of me today and being able to do my part to help the team come away with the win is a really proud moment for me as well.”
Canada will play USA in their semifinals match in Kashima on Monday August 2 at 17.00 local (04.00 ET / 01.00 PT). From the Olympic semifinals the winners advance to Gold Medal Final in Tokyo on August 6, while the losing teams will be playing for a Bronze Medal in Kashima on August 5.
Set your alarm clocks! Monday morning should be epic.