Deserved Point Seals Group Summit

Canada 1-1 Great Britain

By Ben Gilby

Pictured: Team GB goalscorer Caroline Weir up against Canada’s Sophie Schmidt. Photo: Getty Images.

Great Britain earned the point that ensured they topped Group E after coming from behind to earn a deserved draw with Canada in Ibiraki.

Both sides rang the changes with Georgia Stanway and Millie Bright among those returning to the starting eleven for Team GB with Ellen White on the bench. Canada were without their experienced trio of Allysha Chapman, Christine Sinclair and Desiree Scott who hold over 540 caps between them.

The Canadians took the lead ten minutes into the second half after taking advantage of less than impressive defending by Britain, but they did not have the consistent attacking threat to take the game to Team GB as they conceded a goal in the last ten minutes yet again at these Games.

The first half opened in heavy rain and immediately there was some uncertainty at the back from Britain which allowed Évelyne Viens to get a shot away which was wide.

The Canadians defended high and succeeded in pushing Team GB back, forcing them to pass around midfield whilst waiting to find a killer ball through, which nullified their attacking threat for large parts of the opening quarter and much of the game was played in the middle third in this period.

Above: Georgia Stanway battles against Canada’s Jayde Riviere. Photo: Getty Images

The brightest lights in a dark wet first half for Great Britain were Manchester City team mates Georgia Stanway and Demi Stokes. Stanway was popping up all over the offensive third to lay off a perfect pass or hit a dangerous effort. Stokes was rocketing forward from the back, pulling defenders away and creating space with some skilful, marauding runs with the ball.

In contrast, whilst still well organised defensively, Canada were struggling to find the creativity to pose a threat up front.

Just after the half hour mark, Stokes raced up the left and played in Stanway who laid off a pass to Rachel Daly but Ashley Lawrence combined with her goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé to block.

Stokes was involved again six minutes before the break when she played a glorious pass through to Nikita Parris who miskicked her effort. It eventually went into the path of Caroline Weir who couldn’t control her follow up shot.

Above: Demi Stokes, who had a superb first half, up against Deanne Rose. Photo: Getty Images

Great Britain opened the second period playing controlled passing, patiently looking for a breakthrough. However, when the breakthrough did come, it was not the way they expected and the consequence of their own errors.

There had already been a warning light flashing on 53 minutes when Ellie Roebuck’s poor clearance went straight to Adriana Leon, whose shot was blocked by Bright. Yet just two minutes later, Lawrence was given the freedom to break up the left, cut in and square a ball which the entire defence couldn’t reach. Leon was unmarked towards the back of the box and swept the ball home to put Canada in front.

The Canadians had plenty of possession in the next ten minutes but lacked the ability to penetrate further, and Great Britain made them pay.

The remaining twenty minutes or so saw Team GB on top, boosted by the arrival of both White and Fran Kirby as substitutes. The pair offered a different kind of threat. The creativity of Kim Little, also on from the bench and Weir became more evident.

Above: Adriana Leon (left) pictured after putting Canada in front. Photo: Getty Images.

The Scots combined on 65 minutes when a gorgeous inside pass from Little found Weir whose cross shot rebounded off of the underside of the bar onto the inside of the far post and away.

Kirby earned her country a corner within 90 seconds of coming on, forcing Vanessa Gilles to put the ball out. From the resulting set piece from Weir, Stanway had a shot blocked and White’s follow up was easily held by Labbé.

Then, with five minutes left, Lucy Bronze took up possession on the left and cut across to offload a pass for Weir who hit a first time effort which deflected off of Nichelle Prince into the far corner of the net for 1-1.

After that, Great Britain controlled the ball well to ensure they gained the point to finish top of the group. If Team GB can do something that England have failed to do for over a year and tighten up at the back, they have a chance of doing some damage in the knock-out stages. Australia are up next, and that will be a tasty battle indeed.

Teams: CANADA: Labbé, Riviere, Buchanan, Gilles, Lawrence, Schmidt, Quinn, Rose, Beckie, Leon, Viens. Substitutes used: Fleming (for Beckie 46), Huitama (for Rose 46), Prince (for Viens 54), Grosso (for Quinn 67), Carle (for Lawrence 81).

Scorers: Leon 55.

GREAT BRITAIN: Roebuck, Bronze, Williamson, Bright, Stokes, Scott, Ingle, Daly, Weir, Stanway, Parris. Substitutes used: Little (for Scott 63), White (for Daly 63), Kirby (for Ingle 76).

Scorers: Weir 85.

Referee: Kateryna Monzul (UKR).

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