10th August, 2012
COVENTRY, England: Midfielder Diana Matheson scored an injury-time winner Thursday to give Canada a 1-0 win over France in the bronze-medal match in the women’s Olympic football tournament.
France completely dominated the second half and had several chances to score. But Matheson latched on to a loose ball in the second minute of added time and was unmarked when she volleyed the ball past France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi.
In the build-up, Matheson played a pass inside the penalty area to midfielder Sophie Schmidt, who turned, dribbled and fired a shot. It deflected off France defender Sonia Bompastor and the ball landed at the feet of Matheson, who slotted it home.
“It feels amazing,” Matheson said about her goal. “It feels unreal, it feels like a dream. We felt as a group that we were going to earn this and we did, in the last minute.”
It is Canada’s first Summer Games medal in a traditional team sport since 1936, when the men’s basketball team won a silver, according to the Canadian Press news agency.
After a timid first half, France overran Canada in the second interval. Forward Gaetane Thiney hit the post in the 62nd minute after right winger Elodie Thomis ran to the byline and crossed the ball across the face of goal, and Thomis then struck the crossbar two minutes later.
Defender Corine Franco’s close-range effort was cleared off the line by Canada midfielder Desiree Scott in the 71st. Those were just a sample of the barrage faced by Canada, who appeared to have heavy legs after losing 4-3 in extra time to the United States in the semifinals Monday.
Canada captain Christine Sinclair’s hat trick against the Americans was among her six goals in the tournament, but on Thursday she did little to threaten France’s goal and was forced to track back to defend in the latter stages. She nearly scored her seventh goal in the 15th minute after receiving a pass on the edge of the area from right back Rhian Wilkinson. Sinclair turned, dribbled a couple of steps and fired a shot just over the bar.
“We knew it was going to be a real test today, but I think once we realized we had a little bit more gas in the tank, we went for it,” Canada goalkeeper Erin McLeod said. “And I’m so proud of everyone and how they fought for the result.”
France caused problems on the flanks in the first half, with right winger Elodie Thomis sending dangerous balls into the penalty area. But Canada’s back line was solid and smothered the chances.
Canada will now travel about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast to Wembley Stadium to pick up the bronze after the gold-medal match between Japan and the United States.
FIFA, meanwhile, is investigating “incidents that occurred” following Canada’s semifinal loss to the U.S. Canada players, including Sinclair, were openly critical of the Norwegian match referee.
DEFENDING CHAMPIONS Netherlands won the first ever Olympic Games hockey shoot-out to beat New Zealand and set-up a women’s final against Argentina on Wednesday.
World champions Argentina prevailed 2-1 over hosts Great Britain in the second semi-final.
Friday’s final, featuring the two top-ranked women’s teams in the world, will be a rematch of the title encounter in the 2010 World Cup in Rosario.
Netherlands won the Olympic Games women’s hockey gold medal in 1984 and 2008, while Argentina’s best was the silver medal in 2000.
New Zealand were playing their first ever Olympic semi-final.
PAKISTAN TWICE fought back from a goal down to defeat South Korea 3-2 and claim seventh place in men’s field hockey at the Olympic Games on Thursday.
The match eventually hinged on a tale of two short corners. New Zealand produced an overwhelming first-half performance in a 3-1 win over Argentina which gave them ninth place.
BRITISH LIGHTWELTERWEIGHT Tom Stalker bowed out following Wednesday’s quarter-final defeat, while Ireland’s Paddy Barnes wants just a point against reigning Olympic light flyweight champion Zou Shiming.
Stalker, the British team captain, was left devastated by his 23-22 quarter-final defeat to Mongolia’s Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg.
Stalker’s exit means Uranchimeg faces Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk, the world silver medallist, in the semi-finals after his convincing 21-13 win over Australia’s Jeffrey Horn.
With Brazil’s world champion Everton Lopes already out, Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias will take on Italy’s Vincenzo Mangiacapre in the other semi-final after they both came through their last eight bouts.
China’s boxing icon Zou, the Asian champion, put in a solid display in his 13-10 victory over Kazakhstan’s Birzhan Zhakypov having hammered Cuba’s Yosbany Veita 26-4 in the Round of 16.
In the other semi-final, 32-year-old Kaeo Pongprayoon of Thailand faces Russia’s David Ayrapetyan in Friday’s semi-final and is keeping it mum about his chances of gold.
There was a shock in the first light welterweight quarter-final as Cuba’s world champion Julio la Cruz was beaten 18-15 by Brazil’s Yamaguchi Falcao, who faces Russia’s Egor Mekhontcev in Friday’s semi-final.
Ukraine’s Oleksandr Gvozdyk upset Algeria’s Abdelhafid Benchabla for a 19-17 quarter-final win to meet Kazakhstan’s Adilbek Niyazymbetov in Friday’s other semi.