Published July 26, 2023

Canada rallies to defeat Ireland and boost its chances of advancing at World Cup

The Canadians seemed dead and buried for most of the first half ...
Canada FIFA Women's World Cup - CP

By Neil Davidson in Perth

Canada survived an early Katie McCabe wonder goal Wednesday, climbing out of a deep hole to defeat Ireland 2-1 and boost its hopes of advancing at the FIFA Women's World Cup.

The Canadians seemed dead and buried for most of the first half after McCabe scored directly off a corner in the fourth minute. The Irish had their tails up and Olympic champion Canada looked shell-shocked.

But a Megan Connelly own goal in first-half stoppage time and 53rd-minute strike by Adriana Leon turned the tables.

Tied 1-1 after a first half dominated by Ireland, Canada coach Bev Priestman sent in the cavalry to start the second half. She brought on Christine Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt and Shelina Zadorsky with Sinclair becoming the tip of the Canadian spear, leading the attack.

The trio arrived with a combined 635 caps under their belts.

The changes produced an immediate effect with Sinclair finding Jordyn Huitema at the edge of the box. Huitema swivelled and hammered a shot on target, forcing to make a superb diving save from goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan.

Schmidt then unlocked the Irish defence with a perfect pass to Leon in the Irish penalty box. Leon sliced between two defenders and poked the ball past Brosnan.

The Canadians looked like a different team in an entertaining, wide-open second half. Ireland pressed in the final minutes but Canada held firm

With four points from two games, seventh-ranked Canada now faces No. 10 Australia in its final group game Monday in Melbourne with top spot in Group B likely at stake. The Matildas can assure themselves of advancing with a win over No. 40 Nigeria on Thursday in Brisbane.

No. 22 Ireland can celebrate its first-ever goal at the tournament but will rue the sudden change of fortune in the game. Its dream of making the knockout round is over after a second straight loss.

The Irish never stopped coming in a first half that saw rain come down in sheets periodically. But then it was Canada's turn.

The Irish fans made their voice heard during the pre-game team lineup announcements. While Dublin might have been 14,900 kilometres away, Perth Rectangular Stadium had clearly gone green for the night.

The announced crowd of 17,065 was chanting "Ole Ole" before the teams took the field.

And it took just four minutes for the Irish, who boast a well-drilled defence and dangerous set pieces, to give the fans something to really cheer about.

After an Irish counterattack led to a corner with Canadian 'keeper Kailen Sheridan having to bundle the ball out of bounds, McCabe produced a moment of magic. The Arsenal midfielder curled the ensuing corner high into the air and into the far corner of the goal, with Sheridan frantically trying to back up to get a hand to the ball.

The Irish star faced the stands and threw up her arms, drinking in the moment. And why not. In contrast, Sheridan hurled the ball away and slammed a mea culpa hand on her chest as teammates tried to console her.

The Olimpico, a name that originates from a goal scored by Argentina's Cesareo Onzari against reigning Olympic champion Uruguay from a corner kick in 1924, was Ireland's first-ever goal at the tournament.

As the Irish celebrated, the Canadians gathered in a huddle in a bid to regain their composure.

It was the earliest goal of the tournament and it hit Canada hard. The Canadians seemed out of kilter with passes going long.

Ireland looked faster and more determined, winning 50-50 battles in just its second ever World Cup outing.

But the Canadians were thrown a lifeline deep into first-half stoppage time when Connolly's attempt to clear a Julia Grosso cross went directly into the Irish goal. It was about the only thing that went right for the Canadians in the first half.

The Canadians were frustrated in their-tournament opening scoreless draw with Nigeria in Melbourne. The Irish, in their first ever appearance at the soccer showcase, proved to be a tough nut to crack for Australia, which needed to convert a second-half penalty and withstand a late Irish surge to win 1-0 in Sydney.

Sinclair was left out of the starting 11 in a tactical move.

Evelyne Viens and Jessie Fleming came into the starting lineup with Sinclair, the world's all-time leading scorer with 190 goals, and Nichelle Prince shifting to the bench. Fleming, who missed the Nigeria game with a calf injury, captained the side. 

It was a damp, breezy 12 degrees Celsius at Perth Rectangular Stadium for the 8 p.m. local time start (8 a.m. ET in Canada). The 20,500-capacity stadium, better known as HBF Park, is home to soccer's Perth Gory and rugby union's Western Force. 

The rain started coming down during warm-ups to the musical accompaniment of Drake's "Started From the Bottom" and Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping Up to Boston."

Irish centre back Louise Quinn, sporting a black eye and wearing a protective boot in the wake of the Australia game, did make the starting lineup. Lucy Quinn, not related to Louise, came in for Marissa Sheva, who conceded the penalty against Australia.

Canada's Quinn, who goes by one name, made it a third Quinn on the pitch.

There was a late Irish change with Aine O’Gorman coming in for Heather Payne, who felt a tweak in her hamstring during warm-ups.

The Canadians had a glorious chance in the 30th minute after Ireland failed to clear a corner. Kadeisha Buchanan flicked a header towards goal that fellow centre back Vanessa Gilles got a foot to, only to send the ball over the bar.

Irish midfielder Ruesha Littlejohn shadowed Fleming, denying her space to create behind the strikers.

Buchanan looked shaky, beaten several times and forced to take a yellow card when she was on the wrong end of an Irish attack.

Both teams have had difficulties scoring of late.

The Canadian women were held scoreless in three of their previous five outings this year, outscored 7-3. But at the other end of the pitch, they had kept five clean sheets in their last previous group‑stage outings at the tournament.

Ireland had scored in just one of its last six matches, outscored 9-3 over that period with the lone goals came in a 3-2 win over No. 77 Zambia last month in Dublin. And while the Irish outscored their opposition 26-4 over eight matches in their World Cup qualifying group, 20 of those goals came in two matches against No. 126 Georgia.

Ireland booked its ticket to the tournament by beating No. 23 Scotland 1-0 in a playoff after finishing runner-up to No. 3 Sweden in its qualifying group with a 5-1-2 record. 

Canada and Ireland had met just once before with Canada rallying for a 2-1 win in the fifth-place game at the 2014 Cyprus Cup thanks to a 90th-minute goal by Schmidt.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2023

Banner image via The Canadian Press

What do you think of this article?

Have a breaking story?

Share it with us!
Share Your Story

What Barrie's talking about!

From breaking news to the best slice of pizza in town! Get everything Barrie’s talking about delivered right to your inbox every day. Don’t worry, we won’t spam you. We promise :)
Subscription Form
Consent Info

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Central Ontario Broadcasting, 431 Huronia Rd, Barrie, Ontario, CA, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Related Stories