Canada Defeats Brazil to Win Gold at Pan Am Games

Canadian Soccer Association

Canadian Soccer Association

Canada needed kicks from the penalty mark, but it got the job done in bringing home a gold medal at the XVI Pan American Games Guadalajara 2011 Women’s Football Tournament. Canada and Brazil played to a 1:1 draw before a 4-3 victory on kicks concluded the 2011 tournament. Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc made two saves on kicks from the penalty mark. 

Brazil’s 20-year old striker Debora was the hero once, but could not do it twice. She scored the opening goal in the fourth minute, but was then stopped on the final kick from the penalty mark by LeBlanc. As for Canada’s goal-scoring hero, it was none other than captain Christine Sinclair. She headed home the equaliser from a Diana Matheson corner kick in the 87th minute. 

Debora scored the opening goal just four minutes into the match, making a good run straight at two defenders before unleashing a shot from just outside the penalty area. Debora’s shot whizzed by LeBlanc who dove but could not stop the shot on target. 

Canada maintained greater possession throughout the match, but could not find an answer after it trailed 1-0. Perhaps its best opportunity in the first half came off a Lauren Sesselmann drive down the left wing. She centered it along the ground, but goalkeeper Barbara was in position to scoop it up. Kaylyn Kyle was closing in, but could not get there quick enough, drawing a caution when she touched Barbara after the save. 

In the second half, Brazil had its turn to put Canada on the defence. Despite the pressure, though, it was LeBlanc who took her turn to shine. She made a terrific save in the 68th minute on a shot from Thaís Guedes. It was Debora who initiated the deep attack on the right side, controlling the ball and crossing it to the left where Thaís was ready to shoot. LeBlanc was in position to make the save. 

Debora had another good chance in the 86th minute, this time driving down the left side and getting a shot on LeBlanc. LeBlanc made the save and Debora ran out of room to get a second shot on the empty net. 

As for Canada, the team had started to find its second wind in the latter part of the match as it searched for an equaliser. That goal would come less than a minute after LeBlanc’s most recent terrific save: a Diana Matheson corner kick into the penalty area was headed into the net by Sinclair. 

For Sinclair, it was her second goal of the tournament and 119th of her career. It was also her fourth goal in six career matches against Brazil. 

In extra time, both teams pressed, but neither team could find a solution. The match ended in a 1:1 draw. As for match statistics, the record showed that Canada maintained 57% of possession and won seven of the 13 corner kicks in the match. Brazil, on the other hand, out-shot Canada 22-13. 

On kicks, Diana Matheson, Francielle, Christine Sinclair, Maurine and Melanie Booth scored on the first five attempts. Grazielle was then stopped by Karina LeBlanc on the sixth attempt. 

With Canada in the lead, Sophie Schmidt and Ketlen both scored on the ensuing kicks, bringing the scoreline to 4-3 in Canada’s favour. Candace Chapman then had a chance to win it, but she struck the right post on Canada’s fifth kick from the penalty mark. 

On Brazil’s fifth kick, however, LeBlanc stopped Debora and Canada celebrated gold for the first time at the Pan American Games. 

For the gold-medal final, Canada’s starting XI featured Karina LeBlanc in goal, Lauren Sesselman at left back, Candace Chapman and Shannon Woeller at centre back, Robyn Gayle at right back, and Kelly Parker, Kaylyn Kyle, Diana Matheson, Christina Julien, Desiree Scott and Christine Sinclair from the midfield up through to the attack. 

In the second half, coach John Herdman switched Kyle with Sophie Schmidt (65the minute), Sesselmann with Melanie Booth (77′) and Gayle with Rhian Wilkinson (80′). 

Brazil’s starting XI was nearly identical to the one that featured five days earlier against Canada, with only Daniele out from an injury sustained in the Canada-Brazil group match. The Brazil XI featured Barbara in goal, Daiane at left back, Tânia and Karen at centre back, Maurine at right back, and Rosana, Francielle, Formiga, Thaís Guedes, Andréia Dos Santos and Debora from the midfield up through to the attack. 

Coach Kleiton Lima made just two of his allowed three substitutions, one in the second half and one in the second period of extra time. He replaced Rosana with Ketlen (82′) and Thaís with Grazielle (107′). 

Along with the caution to Kyle, Julien and Gayle were both shown yellow cards in the second half. Brazil captain Tânia was also shown a yellow card in the second half. 

Canada finished the XVI Pan American Games Guadalajara 2011 with a record of three wins and two draws. Both draws came against Brazil (0:0 in the group phase and 1:1 in the championship final). As for goal scorer Christine Sinclair, she scored her 10th career goal at the Pan American Games. Six different players scored two goals at this year’s tournament, including both Sinclair and Julien.

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