Kashima (Japon) (AFP)
Jessie Fleming scored a second-half penalty as Canada surprised the four-time Olympic women’s football champions 1-0 on Monday to reach the final for the first time.
Fleming’s nerve-racking shot in the 74th minute earned Canada their first victory over their neighbors since 2001 and sparked a clash with Sweden, who beat Australia 1-0 in the second semi-final.
The loss ended the Americans’ 36-game unbeaten streak against Canada. The world champions will face Australia for the consolation of a bronze medal.
“It sucks, obviously you never want to lose,” said US forward Megan Rapinoe.
“You never want to lose, you never want to lose in a world championship, you never want to lose to Canada obviously, and you never want to lose by playing like we did. “
“There are 100 things we would all like to do better. I think that’s the most frustrating thing for all of us, ”she added. “It’s hard to swallow. “
The United States and Canada combined seven goals in their last meeting at the Olympics, a memorable 4-3 semifinal victory for the United States after an overtime at Old Trafford in 2012.
Canada finally finished with bronze nine years ago and also finished third at Rio 2016.
“There are veterans on the team who still feel so injured since 2012. I’m just over the moon for this group of players,” said Canada coach Bev Priestman.
“The winners win and we go into this final to absolutely get a gold medal. “
– USA lose Naeher to injury –
It wasn’t until the introduction of Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Christen Press on time that the United States registered a first shot on target, a coiled shot from Lloyd knocked down by Stephanie Labbe.
By this point, the United States had lost goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, the heroine of their quarter-final victory over the Dutch on penalties, to injury.
Naeher, who saved one shot on goal in regulation and two more in the shootout against the 2019 World Cup finalist, had to undergo a lengthy treatment to his right knee after landing awkwardly in the first half.
She fought for a few minutes but was eventually replaced by Adrianna Franch.
Labbe herself saved two penalties in a shootout as Canada edged Brazil in the previous round, and she made another dead save to keep Julie Ertz’s header out of a corner.
The United States had qualified for all the Olympic finals except Rio 2016, where they lost to future Swedish finalists on penalties in the last eight.
Still, they had won just once in four matches in 90 minutes in Japan, and fell behind when Canada was awarded a soft penalty following a VAR exam.
Deanne Rose put pressure on Tierna Davidson in pursuit of a free ball and the Canadian stretched out after a tangle of legs, the referee pointing the spot after consulting the field monitor.
Fleming hid the penalty beyond Franch, and there would be no return from the Americans – Lloyd’s header cutting the bar in the dying minutes as their Olympics came to a slow end.
Sweden will have the chance to mend their loss to Germany in the 2016 final after beating Australia in Yokohama.
Fridolina Rolfo, who hit the crossbar in the first half, scored the decisive goal just after the break.
Ellie Carpenter was sent off deep in stoppage time for Australia after dragging Lina Hurtig.
© 2021 AFP