GB women footballers crash out of the Olympics after defeat to Canada

 

Great Britain's women's team were unable to hitch themselves to the back of a bicycle-led gold rush as they crashed out of the Olympics in Coventry tonight.

After such electrifying group stage performances, Hope Powell's team never got to grips with their quarter-final as Canada secured a deserved win and a trip to Old Trafford to meet the United States on Monday.

Jonelle Filingo and Christine Sinclair got the first-half goals and, in truth, it should have been more.

It means that if Britain is to register its first Olympic football medal since 1912, Stuart Pearce's men's team, who face South Korea tomorrow, will have to do it.

The way it all ended was a shame too, because these have been a heady few days for the women's game and they fully deserved the standing ovation they got at the end.

Tuesday's win over Brazil at Wembley had taken it to a level that had never previously been reached, to the extent that tonight's encounter was being viewed by some as nothing more than a mere stepping stone towards a last four showdown with another of the game's superpowers.

That assessment obscured the fact Canada are ranked seventh in the world, have been in camp for three months following the collapse of their domestic league and, crucially, had already played at Coventry twice.

To Hope Powell's chagrin, GB were denied the chance of a training session yesterday due to an overnight deluge and so it was Canada who began with the assurity of a home team, rather than the girls so many had turned up to support.

Filigno had already been denied once by Karen Bardsley when she met an 11th-minute corner with a perfect half volley that flashed into the corner of Bardsley's goal.

It was the first time Britain had conceded during the competition and after Alex Scott had failed to capitalise on Karen Carney's superb cross, Bardsley was soon picking the ball out of her net again.

If there was a debate over Kim Little's foul on Desiree Scott, none was required about the quality of Sinclair's free-kick as it curled delightfully into the corner.

It was Sinclair's 140th international goal. Little wonder she has been crowned Canada's player of the year seven successive times.

With the impressive Filingo a constant threat, Britain could never settle into any sort of rhythm and the absence of Kelly Smith through injury didn't help.

Even free-scoring full-back Stephanie Houghton was unable to threaten as she thrashed a rather desperate shot wide.

Not even the volume being turned up full blast by the 28,828 inside a superb stadium that will host League One combat this season could help.

Substitute Fara Williams wriggled her way to the byline and picked out makeshift striker Jill Scott with a cross but the Everton midfielder was unable to get enough power into her header to trouble Erin McLeod.

It was all a bit desperate though. Powell offered a withering look back to a demand from one supporter that she should make a change. Rhian Wilkinson got away with a clear foul in the box on Eniola Aluko.

So, in the end, the only small bit of reflected glory came from the victors being coached by a Brit, Consett-born John Herdman.

PA

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