British dreams shattered as Canadians reach last four
Great Britain 0 Canada 2
British hopes of a football double in the weekend quarter-finals were extinguished in disappointing fashion last night when the women's team turned in their worst performance of the tournament and were knocked out by a side who had finished only third in their group. Having not conceded a goal in three group games, Britain let in two in the opening 25 minutes and were going uphill from then on.
The lack of a natural goalscorer in attack, which had previously been compensated for by goals from defenders, finally proved their undoing and a Canadian goalkeeper who had earlier looked suspect was not given sufficient work. One routine save in the opening quarter of an hour was the sum of it.
Canada, coached by the Geordie John Herdman, will now play a North American derby against the United States in the semi-final at Old Trafford on Monday, while Japan, having knocked out Brazil, play France at Wembley.
"We probably didn't get into our groove until they'd scored two goals," the Great British coach, Hope Powell, said. "Credit to Canada, who were very physical and muscled us out of the game."
If the first goal was hardly a surprise, given Canada's early domination, the second was a body blow, coming just as Britain were forcing their way back into the game. Both were well taken, the first in the 12th minute supremely so. Sophie Schmidt took a corner on the right that Jonelle Filigno met with a scorching half-volley from close to the penalty spot that Karen Bardsley had little to no hope of saving.
The goalkeeper might have done better with the second one, a free-kick awarded when Kim Little was adjudged to have fouled Desiree Scott, and Canada's captain Christine Sinclair, scorer of almost 150 international goals, curled her low free-kick past Bardsley's dive after the wall had split.
Urged on by an impressively vociferous crowd not very far short of the ground's 32,000 capacity, Powell's team had begun to create some chances in between times. The best of them came when Alex Scott, the adventurous right-back, won the ball in an attacking area and crossed for Karen Carney to head just past the angle of bar and post.
Canada, "organised and structured" according to Powell, were proving that and more, giving no room to Arsenal's Ellen White, who was awarded her first start with her club-mate Kelly Smith not risking a minor injury. With White regularly crowded out, further scoring opportunities were slow to arrive and it was not until just after the hour that Steph Houghton, the leading scorer with three goals, was sufficiently far forward to hit a shot that sailed high and wide.
White could not complain at being replaced just after that by the Evertonian Fara Williams, who came into midfield with Little and the taller Jill Scott pushed further forward. In contrast, Melissa Tancredi, who plays professionally in Sweden and went into the game as the tournament's top scorer, needed careful watching and had willing support from Sinclair.
Britain had not managed an attempt on target since midway through the first half and there was an increasing air of desperation about both their play and the crowd's encouragement. The nearest they came to forcing a close finish was when a legitimate penalty appeal was turned down by the Japanese referee after Rhian Wilkinson clipped Eniola Aluko.
Woman of the match Sinclair.
Match rating 5/10.
Referee S Yamagishi (Japan).
The guard has changed at Old Trafford for the first time in 26 years. Meanwhile, down the road, the ...
by The Sports Lawyer
21 May 2013 10:01 PM
With the top nine players in the men’s world tennis rankings all missing this tournament to prepare ...
by Gareth Purnell
21 May 2013 02:01 AM
When cyclists look back on their careers spanning many hundreds (and in some cases possibly thousand...
by Martin Ayres
20 May 2013 06:12 PM
Tottenham to smash pay scale with £150,000-a-week contract in attempt to tie Gareth Bale to club
Manchester City begin to rebuild and rebrand for future
Why Arsène Wenger must spend to put icing on the cake and buy likes of Stevan Jovetic for Arsenal
Arsenal considering options as Fiorentina continue to hold-out on Stevan Jovetic
Sam Wallace: As he leaves Real Madrid, make no mistake - Jose Mourinho's return to Chelsea will only end in tears
- 1 'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
- 2 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 3 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 4 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
- 5 'It was just like the movie Twister': Man survives Oklahoma tornado by taking refuge in horse stall
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.