Canadian women win Brazil Soccer tournament

Christine Sinclair has done it again. This time, down to 10 players with less than 10 minutes on the clock, Sinclair fired a cracker of a goal from the top of the 18-yard box to clinch the Torneio Internacional Cidade de São Paulo in Brazil. The final score on this day was 2:2 between Canada and host Brazil. Canada won the Four Nations tournament, though, with the greater goal difference over four matches: both teams posted two wins and two draws, but Canada was +6 while Brazil was +4.

Josée Bélanger opened the scoring in the 43rd minute, shortly before the end of the first half. Marta then scored a pair of goals in the second half, the second of which was on a penalty following a hand ball and ejection to defender Marie-Eve Nault. Sinclair scored the final goal in the 83rd minute.

Canada went down to 10 players in the 71st minute following Nault’s ejection. She had already been shown one yellow card in the 65th minute, so when a direct shot from just a few metres in front of her smacked her hand, the referee called the penalty and Nault was sent to the dressing room. Marta immediately made it 2-1 on the penalty, directing her kick into the left corner of the net past Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé.

Down to 10 players, Canada never gave up. In the last 20 minutes, Canada created three good chances, including the terrific goal by Sinclair in the 83rd minute. Brazil also created chances at the other end, but Labbé was too good for Brazil to regain the lead.

Labbé was strong throughout the tournament, starting three of four matches including both against Brazil. Her play in the previous match won her another start in the 19 December championship final; her play in the opening 15 minutes of the final confirmed the coach’s decision.

With the exception of a scoring opportunity by Sinclair in the opening minute, it was all Brazil with the chances in the first 15 minutes. Labbé and her Canadian defence squashed several opportunities created by Brazil’s dangerous attackers such as Marta and Gabriela.

As the first half progressed, Canada found a way to turn the tide in their favour, finally quieting the crowd of 17,264 in the 43rd minute with the header by Bélanger. It was a Tancredi cross from the left side that led to the Bélanger goal.

Brazil’s first goal came in the 55th minute after Marta blew through the Canadian defence. Ahead of her opponents in the Canadian box, she fired a shot past Labbé for a 1-1 draw. Her second goal came 17 minutes later on the penalty kick.

In the championship final, Canada’s starting XI featured Stephanie Labbé in goal, Rhian Wilkinson, Emily Zurrer, Candace Chapman and Marie-Eve Nault at defence, and Diana Matheson, Kaylyn Kyle, Carmelina Moscato, Christine Sinclair, Josée Bélanger and Melissa Tancredi from midfield up through to the attack. Coach Morace’s two substitutions were Robyn Gayle in the 74th minute (for Chapman) and Chelsea Stewart in the 85th minute (for Tancredi).

Brazil’s starting XI featured Andreia in goal, Aline, Renata Costa, Erika and Rosana at defence, and Fabiana, Thais, Ester, Gabriela, Formiga and Marta from the midfield up through to the attack. Brazil’s three substitutions were Marina in the 30th minute (for injured Renata Costa) and Danielle and Andrei Rosa both in the 46th minute (for Erika and Thais).

Sinclair’s goal in the 83rd minute was the 13th of her season in 16 matches. Sinclair now has 112 goals on her international career. Canada, meanwhile, tied a national record with its 10th straight match without a loss (eight wins and two draws). It also finished 2010 with its best statistical record in Association history (13 wins, three draws and two losses).

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