Canada's soccer women post historic win over Germany in Rio
Tancredi's 2 goals vault Canadians into Friday's Olympic quarter-finals
By Doug Harrison, CBC Sports
Melissa Tancredi propelled the Canadian Olympic women's soccer team to its first-ever win over Germany in 13 meetings on Tuesday, scoring both goals in a 2-1 decision in the Group F finale at the Rio Olympics.
The Canadians, who finish atop the group with a 3-0-0 record, had already clinched a spot in Friday's quarter-finals before the match at Mané Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia, Brazil.
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The 10th-ranked Canadian women will play runner-up France in Sao Paulo on Friday.
Germany finished second in the pool on a tiebreaker over Australia with both teams at 1-1-1 after the Australians beat Zimbabwe 6-1.
The Germans will play the Group E runner-up, one of No. 6 Brazil, No. 8 Sweden and No. 12 China, in Salvador while the Aussies await other results to decide their fate.
In the previous 12 games between Canada and Germany, dating back to 1994, the Germans outscored their opponent 38-13. They could meet again in the semifinals.
But Canadian head coach John Herdman is guiding a much deeper club than the outfit that lost to Mexico in the bronze-medal game at the 2015 Pan Am Games.
"[Tancredi] spoke before the game. She got them clear on what this game was about (as) it was about making history in a couple of ways: beating Germany for the first time and finishing top of the group with nine points," said Herdman.
Case in point: Canada pulled out the win with defender Kadeisha Buchanan serving a one-game ban and top forwards Christine Sinclair and Janine Beckie along with midfielder Diana Matheson being rested by Herdman with his team playing its third game in seven days.
Tancredi, who hails from Ancaster, Ont., answered Melanie Behringer's goal in the 13th minute with a beautiful kick to the corner past diving German goalkeeper Almuth Schult for her 26th career international goal.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CanWNT?src=hash">#CanWNT</a> Melissa Tancredi evens the score against <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GER?src=hash">#GER</a>. 1-1 in the 1st half. Watch NOW <a href="https://t.co/TbdPDVWAaK">https://t.co/TbdPDVWAaK</a> <a href="https://t.co/vhoyywFn21">https://t.co/vhoyywFn21</a>—@CBCOlympics
Before the shot, the Canadian forward faked a couple of defenders, with one turning her back to the play while the other slowed down to provide a hole for Tancredi to make the attempt.
"I am just proud of this team," Tancredi said. "To be able to put two goals past a tier-one opponent and really state our spot in this tournament is really huge for us."
Tancredi's decisive marker came off a header in the 60th minute when she created about a foot of separation on the German defence and found the corner of the net.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CanWNT?src=hash">#CanWNT</a> Melissa Tancredi gives <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CAN?src=hash">#CAN</a> a 2-1 lead over <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GER?src=hash">#GER</a> in the 2nd half. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rio2016?src=hash">#Rio2016</a> <a href="https://t.co/TbdPDVWAaK">https://t.co/TbdPDVWAaK</a> <a href="https://t.co/UlwbmIrcT0">https://t.co/UlwbmIrcT0</a>—@CBCOlympics
Strangely, Germany, the two-time women's World Cup champions and bronze medallists at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics, didn't show any urgency in their play leading up to Tancredi's go-ahead marker.
Later, the Germans did show they wouldn't go down quietly as they closed in several times on Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé several times in the final minutes before stoppage time.
- At the 87-minute mark, Labbé alertly pounced on the ball with German forward Mandy Islacker charging to the net.
- Then, 31 seconds later, Labbé almost allowed the equalizer, but got enough of the ball to send it wide of the post.
- After Nichelle Prince was handed a yellow card, Germany's free kick sailed over the net.
- Canadian defender Josée Bélanger managed to deflect a shot with her right foot that was heading for the net.
Germany, which pressured the Canadians in the first 15-20 minutes of the contest, had the majority of the quality possession in the second half and 67 per cent for the match while winning the shots on goal battle 6-4, with 22 attempts to six for Canada.
The Canadians were able to keep the match tied 1-1 despite playing much of the final 12 minutes of the first half in their own end as they kept nine players on their side to help stem the German attack. Germany's best chance in the late going of the half was a Tabea Kemme header on a dangerous-looking cross.
Americans tie Colombia, France beats New Zealand
Colombia scored in the 90th minute to earn a 2-2 draw against the United States on Tuesday.
Catalina Usme scored twice for Colombia, opening the scoring in the game's 26th minute when her free kick squeaked through the legs of U.S. keeper Hope Solo.
Crystal Dunn (41') and Mallory Pugh (60') scored for the United States.
The Americans will still finish atop Group G, having won their two previous matches. Colombia, after losing its first two matches, will not make the quarter-finals.
France blanked New Zealand 3-0 in the other Group G match to finish second.
They'll face Canada in the quarter-finals on Friday.
Group E finishes with scoreless draws
A pair of nil-nil draws closed out Group E, with Brazil-South Africa and China-Sweden each playing to a scoreless result.
The quarter-finals are now all set with the matches scheduled for Friday.
With files from The Canadian Press