Canada takes Algarve Cup bronze with win over Sweden
Women's soccer team prevails in 7th round of penalty shootout
Canada displayed a resolute defence and some steely nerves Wednesday in dispatching Sweden in a 6-5 penalty shootout to claim bronze at the Algarve Cup in Loule, Portugal.
After Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe dived to her right to deny Hanna Glas, Jessie Fleming, a 20-year-old UCLA midfielder, stepped up to beat Hedvig Lindahl for the win.
Sophie Schmidt, Deanne Rose, Ashley Lawrence, Janine Beckie and Kadeisha Buchanan also converted their penalties against the ninth-ranked Swedes.
Canada captain Christine Sinclair and Sweden's Mimmi Larsson missed in the penalty shootout.
With Sinclair missing Canada's second penalty attempt, the pressure was on. But Labbe stopped the Swedes' fourth try to restore parity. Labbe came up big again on Sweden's seventh attempt.
"To make that last save felt good that I was able to do that for the team," said Labbe.
WATCH | Canada wins bronze medal at Algarve Cup in penalty shootout:
Fifth-ranked Canada won the bronze despite scoring just one goal in its three matches at the 12-team women's soccer tournament. But it also did not concede a goal, extending its perfect run on defence to 362 minutes.
"I think there's a lot of positives to take out of this tournament," said Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller. "Today it's the fourth clean sheet in a row. We saw everyone in action, all 23 players, that explains a lot about our depth.
"This match was awesome, playing against Sweden who is a top team and the amount of pressure we put on them defensively and offensively is pretty amazing. If we can play like this ... it's looking good, but we need to do better to find the back of the net and we will be working on that as we prepare to face England in April."
Canada takes on fourth-ranked England on April 5 in Manchester in another World Cup warmup.
No. 13 Norway blanked No. 34 Poland 3-0 in the championship game.
It was 0-0 after 90 minutes with Canada outshooting Sweden 8-7, although the Swedes had a 4-3 edge in shots on target. It was an entertaining contest with chances at both ends on a windy day at a largely empty Estadio Algarve, which was built for Euro 2004.
Heiner-Moller made two chances from the starting lineup that beat Scotland 1-0 — on a Sinclair penalty.
Labbe replaced Erin McLeod in goal while Nichelle Prince came in for Jordyn Huitema. Canada continued with a back three with Shelina Zadorsky and Schmidt flanking Buchanan.
Canada's career record against Sweden improved to 6-13-3 — and 3-1-2 in their last six meetings. The Swedes are also World Cup-bound.
Canada tied No. 22 Iceland 0-0 in its opening match before defeating Scotland on Sinclair's 179th international goal. The 35-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., is now within five goals of retired American Abby Wambach's world record.
Canada won the Algarve Cup in 2016 and was runner-up in 2017.
The Canadian women finished fifth last year after beating Japan 2-0 in their final match. Canada, second to Sweden in Group B with a 2-1-0 record, was consigned to the fifth-place game after finishing as the second-best runner-up behind Portugal (2-0-1).
The championship game between Sweden and the Netherlands was cancelled due to heavy rain. Both teams were awarded first place.
Canada has been drawn in a group with the seventh-ranked Netherlands, No. 19 New Zealand and No. 46 Cameroon at the World Cup, which starts June 7.