FIFA Women's World Cup: Canada knocked out by England
Defending champions Japan remains perfect, dispatching Australia
Canada exited the Women's World Cup in a painful 2-1 quarter-final loss to England on Saturday, undone on defence in a brutal three-minute spell early in the first half.
The quarter-final departure is by the numbers for eighth-ranked Canada. But John Herdman's team will feel it should have had the measure of No. 6 England and has missed a gilt-edged opportunity to make the final four of the soccer showcase for only the second time.
"We have no excuse. We came here to win a World Cup ... We wanted to make our country proud and I think we did that," Herdman said.
"Stick with us. We'll be back and we'll be fighting strong."
Still Canada went out on its shield, taking the game to the English as it tried to mount a comeback from the 2-0 deficit. Captain Christine Sinclair scored late in the first half and played her best game of the tournament, constantly probing the English defence for weaknesses.
Five minutes of stoppage time made for a tense ending with the crowd trying to urge Canada on.
As the final whistle below, English players rushed the field to celebrate. Canadians dropped to their knees in disappointment. Teenage defender Kadeisha Buchanan had to be consoled by teammates.
Two goals 3 minutes apart
Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze scored for England as Canada's defence, which had been breached just once in its four previous games, gave up goals in the 11th and 14th minutes.
Sinclair notched her 155th international goal thanks to an goalkeeping gaffe by Karen Bardsley. The English 'keeper was eventually forced off in the 52nd minute after taking a whack to the eye. She was replaced by Siobhan Chamberlain.
England advances to play defending champion Japan in Wednesday's semifinal in Edmonton.
The other semifinal, set for Tuesday in Montreal, sees No. 1 Germany versus the second-ranked Americans.
Saturday's game was played before a loud and proud record-breaking crowd of 54,027 at B.C. Place Stadium, erasing the Canadian national team mark of 53,855 set in the same venue last Sunday for the round-of-16 game against Switzerland.
At No. 6, England was Canada's first opponent at the tournament with a better world ranking. The eighth-ranked Canadian women had previously beaten No. 16 China and No. 19 Switzerland and tied No. 17 New Zealand and the 12th-ranked Netherlands.
It was a savvy sometimes cynical performance from England, which defended in numbers after going ahead.
Coach Mark Sampson had complained before the match that the host country had got an easy ride from referees. But it was England who looked to antagonize with players taking particular aim at Canadian midfield creator Sophie Schmidt, who was roughed up every time she got the ball.
The English played with their elbows up, looking to disrupt the home side. Uruguayan referee Claudia Umpierrez penalized them but not often enough for the liking of the crowd.
Canada started well and threatened first.
Canada missed early chance
The Canadians put together a terrific sequence in the eighth minute when Schmidt won the ball back deep in her own half and fed Sinclair, who put the ball through the legs of two English players before lofting a perfect cross-field pass to Melissa Tancredi. But the goal-starved striker shot high.
Three minutes later, Canadian defender Lauren Sesselmann got the ball tangled up in her feet and Taylor pounced on it, accelerating towards the Canadian goal with two defenders chasing her. Taylor then calmly beat Erin McLeod with a right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty box.
Sesselmann, who is coming back from knee surgery, had looked strong in the early going Saturday. But she had giveaways earlier in the tournament and this time she paid for it.
It was 2-0 in the 14th minute as Canada wobbled on defence again when Bronze beat the much smaller Allysha Chapman to a free kick and headed the ball in off the crossbar. The sun streaming through the stadium roof did not help Chapman's cause.
Canada outshot England 14-8 but the English had a 4-3 edge in shots on target. England committed 21 fouls to 15 by Canada., with each team getting one yellow card.
As England celebrated wildly, the Canadian players gathered in a huddle in a bid to stem the flow of goals.
England dominated on set plays and Steph Hougton hit the woodwork with a header in the 28th minute.
Canada kept chipping away and pulled one back in the 42nd minute when Bardsley failed to hang onto a less-than-challenging Ashley Lawrence shot. Sinclair, Johnny on the spot, tapped it in.
McLeod made a big save in the 55th minute, palming a Taylor shot away.
Veteran Canadian midfielder Diana Matheson came on in the 62nd minute, making her tournament debut after a string of injuries. Herdman then shifted Canada into attack mode formation in a desperate bid for the tying goal.
Schmidt shot high in the 83rd minute. As the game neared its end, Canadian players queued up to take shots but could not make them count.
Buchanan was thrown up front as Canada rolled the dice.
Canada made it as far as the semifinals in 2003 when it lost to Sweden before beaten by the U.S. in the third-place game.
The English were coming off their first knockout-round win at the tournament, a 2-1 comeback victory over No. 11 Norway.
Prior to Saturday, the Canadian women had a 5-6-0 career record against England, also holding a win over Great Britain from the 2012 Olympics.
Canada, in its sixth trip to the World Cup, came into the game with a 6-11-5 tournament record and in search of its first back-to-back wins at the soccer showcase since 2003 when it won three in a row.
England, 8-4-4 in four World Cup visits prior to playing Canada, had won three straight.
Herdman went with an unchanged lineup. Sampson brought in Jill Scott and Taylor for Fran Kirby and Toni Duggan, both of whom were substituted in the round-of-16 win over Norway.
previous games, gave up goals in the 11th and 14th minutes.
Defending champs Japan advance
Japan is one step closer to defending it Women's World Cup title.
Mana Iwabuchi scored in the 87th minute as Japan survived a scare on Saturday, defeating Australia 1-0 at Commonwealth Stadium.
Fourth-ranked Japan, the winner of the last World Cup in Germany in 2011 and silver medallists at the 2012 London Olympics, will remain in Edmonton to face the winner of Canada and England in the semifinals on Wednesday.
"We were confident we would score, even if we couldn't get one in the first 90 minutes," said coach Norio Sasaki. "I think the result of this match has given confidence to the Japanese players. I think what we did today can serve as a basis for future successes."
Japan had the best early opportunities, as Sinobu Ohno took a ball in full flight in the eighth minute and sent a chip shot just over the net. She also had a second glorious opportunity in the 22nd minute, narrowly missing the top corner.
Australia had a good chance in the 28th minute after Azusa Iwashimizu was yellow-carded for a body check, but Alanna Kennedy shot her free kick wide of the mark.
Japan responded in the 33rd minute with another great opportunity on a bullet of a shot from Aya Miyami, but Australian goalie Lydia Williams was able to make a leaping save to keep the game scoreless at the half.
Australia put on some more pressure in the 54th minute as a defensive miscue led to a shot from in tight by Samantha Kerr, but goalie Ayumi Kaihori was able to make the save.
Japan came close as well in the 60th minute as a back-foot redirection from Miyami went just wide.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 87th minute as Iwashimizu got a shot off in tight that was saved by Williams, but she corralled the rebound and chipped it over to sub Iwabuchi for the goal.
"She has a very good ability to create opportunities in front of the goal," said Sasaki. "She is a killer player. With her coming out against the tired Australian players, I told her that she was going to decide it."
The Japanese women are the only team to have won every game they've played in the tournament, previously defeating the Netherlands 2-1 in the Round of 16.
Tenth-ranked Australia advanced into the semifinal with a 1-0 upset of Brazil in their previous playoff match after playing in one of the tougher groups to start the tournament, losing 3-1 to the United States, before defeating Nigeria 2-0 and drawing 1-1 with Sweden.
"I thought the better team won today," said Australia head coach Alen Stajcic. "I thought Japan had a lot more patience and technique than us, especially in the first 20 minutes. I thought the game levelled out a bit after that, though... It's a heart-breaking experience for all of us, but sometimes you learn the most from these experiences.
"We're disappointed, but in the grand scheme of things, we lost 1-0 in the 87th minute to the defending champs, not 10-0. It's not as if we were humiliated."
Australia also played and lost to Japan in the final of last year's Asian Cup championships.