The Canadian women’s national team are on top of the world, defeating Sweden 1-1 (3-2) via a penalty shootout to capture the Gold Medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Gold Medal is the nation’s first Olympic Gold medal in soccer.
With the Gold, Canada are just the third nation in the world to win three Olympic medals in women’s soccer (after USA and Germany) and one of only two nations in the world to win an Olympic medal in each of the last three Olympic Games (Brazil in men’s soccer and Canada in women’s soccer).
“Our Women’s National Team players were committed to changing the colour of the medal and they have achieved that with Canada Soccer’s best-ever performance at the Olympic Games,” said Dr. Nick Bontis, Canada Soccer President in a press release before Friday’s match. “We are both proud of the success of our Women’s National Team and inspired by the legacy they continue to create for the next generation of Canadian stars.”
Dictating the tempo for the majority of the first half, 10 minutes before halftime, Sweden would get the opening breakthrough. A low cross into the box would find Stina Blackstenius, who would take it well, striking first time past a sprawling Stephanie Labbe to give her side the 1-0 lead.
Bev Preistman would make two changes to her side in the second half, bringing on Adriana Leon for Janine Beckie and 20-year-old Julia Grosso in for Quinn. The two substitutions would make a difference, as Canada all of a sudden had more life going forward.
And in the 65th minute, Deanne Rose, who came on in place of Nichelle Prince up top for the Canadians, would make a difference moments after checking into the match. The 22-year-old would link up well down the left-hand side with Allysha Chapman, who whipped in an inviting cross, which would find an oncoming Christine Sinclair.
The all-time leading international goal scorer would cleverly take a touch before it appeared that she was brought down by a Sweden defender, but the referee was not interested. However, as they did in the semifinals against the Americans, Canada would get some help from the video assistant referee, who rightfully recommended the referee have another look.
Much to the delight of millions of Canadians watch back at home, the call on the field would be overturned as Canada were rewarded a penalty.
With work still to be done, Jessie Fleming would step up to the spot, and once again with ice in her veins, would calmly slot home to level this match. Fleming was absolutely fantastic in this match and her ability to coolly convert from 12 yards out is just icing on the cake.
After scoring from the spot against the Amy ericans, Fleming became just the third Canadian women’s national team player to score a penalty in back-to-back games — and what a moment to do so. (Hooper 2000, Sinclair 2012)
While you could probably make the argument Sweden controlled the opening 45 of this one, the next 45 would be a much more even affair as neither side were able to find the go-ahead marker, and this one would head to extra time.
In the 30-minute extra time period, both Sweden and Canada would struggle to find a rhythm as tired legs began to kick in under the scorching hot sun in Tokyo.
The best chance for the red and white came towards the latter half of extra time, when Rose once again did well to find space down the right-hand side, crossing into the middle, where Jordyn Huitema, who checked into the game for Sinclair, would get her head to it, but unfortunately her effort would go wide.
With nervous Canadians watching from coast-to-coast, the game would go to a dreaded penalty shootout with Gold on the line.
Up first would be Sweden, as Kosovare Asllani would hit the post before Jessie Fleming would slot (again) to give Canada the early edge. Up next, Nathalie Bjorn would strike it well for Sweden, as Ashley Lawrence would have her penalty saved, bringing this one back even after two shooters.
Olivia Schogue would put Sweden ahead with her third kick of the game before Vanessa Gilles struck one off the crossbar. Stephanie Labbe would give Canada life once again, coming up with a massive save on Sweden’s fourth shooter, however, Adriana Leon would have her shot saved.
With a shot for the gold medal, Swedish captain would step up to the spot and miraculously would fire over the crossbar! Deanne Rose would respond by taking her opportunity well under pressure, tying this one up after five shooters as this one would head to sudden death.
Needing a save, Labbe would once again find a way, as the Canadian goalkeeper would dive to her right to give her side a shot at the Gold Medal. And up to the spot, stepped Grosso, who would find a way past a sprawling Swedish goalkeeper to give the red and white their first ever Gold Medal.
After winning back-to-back bronze medals the past two Olympic Games, the colour of the medal has been officially changed.
Enjoy, Canada. We’ll remember this moment for the rest of our lives.