Adriana Leon plays the hero as Canada completes comeback to defeat Ireland at Women’s World Cup



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.

A woman soccer player dives for the ball.
Julio Grosso’s shot is deflected past Ireland goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan for an own-goal late in the first half. (AFP via Getty Images)

Play Australia in final Group B game

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.

A woman soccer player makes a save.
Canada’s goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, in yellow, makes a save against Ireland. (AFP via Getty Images)


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.

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

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.

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.


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