Chile 1-2 Canada
By Catherine Paquette
Pictured above: Janine Beckie, who had a dominant game for Canada. Photo: Getty Images.
This match was arguably a must win for both teams. Chile lost its opening encounter to Team GB while Canada dropped two points late in their game against Japan when the host nation equalized.
Canadian coach Bev Priestman made several changes for this second game. Kailen Sheridan replaced Steph Labbé as starting goalkeeper. Labbé was injured in the match against Japan. Allysha Chapman was rested and replaced by Jayde Rivière at left back. Quinn started on the bench with Julia Grosso in their place. The other members were the same as the first game.
Chile for their part made one change starting Rosario Balmaceda instead of Nayadet López on the right side. They played this game with what most often resembled a 5-3-2 formation. Canada opted for a 4-3-1-2 formation. While Canada was the stronger side entering the game, it was not an assured win.
Chile showed their offensive capability early in the match. They were awarded a corner in the second minute. The corner found María Urrutia who tried, after receiving and controlling the ball, to pass it back in front of goal. What could have been a threatening situation was then collected by Canada’s Julia Grosso and cleared from danger.
Canada were the next to threaten in the seventh minute. A lovely passing move which started with captain Christine Sinclair finished with a deflection from goalkeeper Christine Endler’s save being re-deflected by Kadeisha Buchanan into goal. However, the goal was waived off after it was shown that the re-deflection made contact with Buchanan’s arm.
Canada then went on to control the next ten minutes, with extended periods of Canadian passing play in the Chilean half. However, through good Chilean defending, Canada could not penetrate the final third despite having a very fluid front line which rotated places often, making it harder for their counterparts to mark them. The longstanding Canadian final third problem continued to be a problem for the majority of the match.
The next goal scoring opportunity occurred in the 18th minute. Daniele Pardo tackled Sinclair in the Chilean box. After VAR review a penalty was awarded to Canada. Janine Beckie was selected to take it but her attempt hit the righthand side post. The match stayed nil-nil.
The Canadians continued to attack. They often advanced through the middle of the pitch, with quick series of passes between the midfields and strikers to move the ball forward. They were at times a little too compact though, making it easier for Chile to defend them.
The Canadians were not the only ones on the attack though. While Chile’s ability to move forward was at times impacted by the number of players who dropped back into their half to help defensively, they were able to get the ball up the field. Chile preferred to use the right hand side when advancing, with Francisca Lara, Yessenia Lopez and Yanara López being particularly effective together at moving the ball forward.
The breakthrough in scoring though came from the Canadians at the 39th minute. After several minutes of pressure on the Chilean defence, Nichelle Prince made a good run up the right hand side of the Chilean box and crossed it in. Endler deflected it forward and the ball found Beckie who made up for the missed penalty by one touch smashing it home. The Canadians were up 1-0.
Several minutes later, Prince was once again nearly deadly with another sublime pass into the six yard box. It was defended for a corner. The teams finished the first half the with the Canadians having held the majority of the possession and shots on goal.
The second half got off to a quick start. A Canadian attack was triggered by a fantastic pass into the box by Rose. Beckie timed her run perfectly to the pass, was able to get in behind the Chilean defence with the ball and round Endler to score her second goal of the match. The Canadians were now up 2-0 in the 48th minute.
Beckie nearly got a hat trick three minutes later. Prince received the ball on the left hand side of the box. She then dribbled around three defenders, nutmegged a fourth and passed the ball to Beckie. The ball was defended just before it reached her though.
Chile for their part were able to attack back. In the 53rd minute Karen Araya passed a wonderful ball into the Canadian box. Daniela Zamora made a clever run in for it but was tackled by Shelina Zadorsky. A VAR review that contact had been made and a penalty was awarded.
Araya was the Chilean chosen to take it. She clinically put it in the bottom left hand side of the goal. Even if Sheridan had gone the right way, there is arguably little she could have done about it. It was Chile’s first goal in a women’s Olympic football tournament.
The remainder of the match continued as most of the game had gone before. It was largely dominated by Canada, with several Chilean attacks. Both sides had chances on goal. Both sides also made several changes. While it did affect the play, it did not affect the score line.
After the full ninety minutes it remained 2-1 with Canada taking the three points.
It is arguably an uphill battle now for Chile. They sit on zero points with a -3 goal difference. While they are not out of contention, and there is a possibility of progressing if they win their next match and other results go their way, this situation is highly improbable.
They meet tournament hosts Japan next, a very good and technical team who will play hard for a win as they only have one point out of their first two matches. Arguably though, regardless of whether they make it out of the group stage or not, Chile should be proud of their accomplishment.
The team was not even listed five years ago on the FIFA rankings due to inactivity. Here they are five years later, at their second major tournament in a row. What is most impressive is the quality of their play. While they are not at the level of their more seasoned opponents, they are also not being blown out of the game. Chile are playing with technical skill, tactical acuity and consistent persistence.
They have shown in their first two games against difficult opponents that they can compete and be difficult to break through. One hopes that regardless the result of their next game, they will continue to get the funding and support to keep their program growing as this is a side with a lot of future potential.
Canada for their part, while winning this match, can be said to have underperformed so far. While this match was an improvement on the last, more offensive capacity will be needed against Team GB should they desire to top the group. This is most needed in the final third.
They have shown they have the players to do this. While Sinclair did have an off night, possibly disturbed by the nick she picked up early in the game, she still has the capacity to create and score. Prince and Rose also had moments of brilliance throughout the match, creating scoring opportunities and taking shots on goal themselves.
The player of the match though, and arguably the most important offensive Canadian force at the moment, is Janine Beckie. Despite her missed penalty, she showed she had the mental fortitude and grit to carry on and help her team get the win. Contributing creatively in the midfield to bring the ball up, she also proved deadly in front of the net with two goals to prove it.
In the post match press conference Beckie stated: “We came here to win. To be able to help by scoring two goals makes me happy. A win’s a win,” She should be happy, as should Canada.
Teams: CHILE: Endler (C), Guerrero, Lara, Araya, Urrutia, Aedo, Lopez, Pardo, Zamora, Balmaceda, Saez. Substitutes: Ramirez, Lopez Opazo, Acuna, Campos, Pinilla, Toro, Grez.
Scorer: Araya 57 (penalty).
CANADA: Sheridan, Buchanan, Zadorsky, Grosso, Riviere, Lawrence, Scott, Sinclair (C), Prince, Beckie, Fleming. Substitutes: Quinn, Rose, Leon, Viens, Gilles, Carle, McLeod.
Scorers: Beckie 39, 47
Referee: Esther Staubli (SUI)