Olympic champions Canada have overcome the blow of conceding an early ‘Olimpico’ to secure a vital 2-1 FIFA Women’s World Cup win over Ireland in Perth.
The result means the Matildas must beat Nigeria on Thursday night to stay in the top two of Group B heading into their last group game.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Ireland captain’s Olimpico stuns Canada.
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Canada coach Beverly Priestman pulled a huge selection bombshell when she dropped captain Christine Sinclair to the bench for Wednesday night’s match.
And in an even bigger shock, world No.22 Ireland took the lead in the fourth minute when captain Katie McCabe scored from a corner kick.
Her left-footed ‘Olimpico’ curled in the air and evaded the outstretched arm of goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan before rebounding in off the upright.
But an own goal to Irish defender Megan Connolly in first-half stoppage time and a second-half strike from Adriana Leon gave Canada the win.
The result sets up a blockbuster Group B clash between Australia and Canada next Monday in Melbourne.
First, the Matildas will take on Nigeria in Brisbane on Thursday, looking to build on their 1-0 win over Ireland last week.
Full match coverage: Canada back on track after overcoming Irish wonder goal
Katie McCabe cut a shattered figure after the match. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images
For Ireland, their hopes of making it past the group stage are now officially over after suffering two tight losses.
“I mean it’s bitter-sweet,” McCabe told Optus Sport when asked about her stunning goal.
“It’s always nice to score, but it’s the results that matter. I”m just heartbroken for the girls.
McCabe’s ‘Olimpico’ sent the pro-Irish crowd of nearly 18,000 fans into raptures, and even drew praise from injured Matildas midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight, who scored an Olimpico at the 2019 World Cup.
Ireland’s hopes of entering the break with a lead evaporated in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time when defender Connolly turned the ball into her own net while attempting to clear a tricky cross.
Sinclair’s shock omission from Canada’s starting team marked the first time in her six World Cup appearances that she missed out on a spot in the XI, with her penalty miss in the 0-0 draw against Nigeria proving costly.
The 40-year-old was brought on for the start of the second half, and Canada hit the lead in the 53rd minute when a pin-point pass into the box from Sophie Schmidt was duly finished off by Leon.
Christine Sinclair of Canada and Abbie Larkin Ireland. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty ImagesAdriana Leon scored the winner for Canada. Credit: Getty
Sinclair had several good opportunities to become the first player – male or female – to score in six separate World Cups, but she lacked the finishing touch.
Nevertheless, Sinclair’s creativity proved crucial as Canada dominated for long periods of the second half, with Ireland’s desperate attempts to find an equaliser falling short.
“I think gutsy sums it up pretty well,” Leon told Optus Sport when asked about the win.
“We pulled together in the second half and got the three points.
“I was really happy to put that ball in the back of the net.
“We’ll look to grow from here and be stronger in the next game and try to get the three points.”
Mel McLaughlin and broadcasting legend Bruce McAvaney are leading Seven’s coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, with expert insight from Elise Kellond-Knight, Heather Garriock and more. Watch the Matildas and other key matches live and free on 7plus.
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