Leon’s scoring goal propels Canada past Australia in women’s soccer friendly


BRISBANE, Australia — A spectacular first-half strike from Adriana Leon gave Canada a 1-0 victory over Australia in a women’s soccer friendly on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium.

BRISBANE, Australia — A spectacular first-half strike from Adriana Leon gave Canada a 1-0 victory over Australia in a women’s soccer friendly on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium.

The seventh-ranked Canadians will face the 12th-ranked Matildas in a rematch on Tuesday at the newly rebuilt Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

Both venues will host matches for next year’s World Cup, which will take place at 10 stadiums in nine host cities across Australia and New Zealand. Canada will learn its way in the 32-nation tournament at the draw in Auckland in October.

Australia had more chances in the first half but entered the break trailing 1-0. Canada upped the pressure in an entertaining second half in front of a crowd of 25,016.

The Matildas pressed for a late equalizer with Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan pushing a Sam Kerr header from an Australian corner in stoppage time to preserve the victory.

Kerr, the star forward for the Matildas, had plenty of scoring chances but couldn’t beat Sheridan.

Leon, who plays club football for Manchester United, put Canada ahead in the 11th minute from a Jessie Fleming free kick. The ball was cleared by an Australian defender but only to Bianca St-Georges who returned it to Jordyn Huitema. OL striker Reign kicked the ball for Leon, who hammered a right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area past the outstretched hands of diving keeper Lydia Williams for his 25th goal for Canada.

Saturday’s match was the first for Canada since July, when it qualified for the World Cup by finishing second to the top-ranked Americans at the CONCACAF W Championship in Mexico.

Both teams faced depleted rosters on Saturday.

With Kadeisha Buchanan, Allysha Chapman, Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere and Deanne Rose injured and Ashley Lawrence unavailable for personal reasons, the Canadians were missing their entire starting backline.

Bev Priestman’s starting 11 included just four starters from the Tokyo 2021 Olympic final: captain Christine Sinclair, Fleming, Janine Beckie and Nichelle Prince.

Veteran Shelina Zadorsky anchored the backline, earning her 83rd cap alongside fellow centre-back Sura Yekka. Beckie returned to the back with St-Georges on the other side.

St-Georges, 24, who plays for the Chicago Red Stars of the NWSL, impressed in his fifth senior appearance.

Fleming and Julia Grosso were deployed in midfield in front of the back four, with Leon, Sinclair and Prince playing behind Huitema.

Sinclair, the world’s all-time leading scorer with 190 goals, earned her 317th cap for Canada.

Kerr, who plays alongside Fleming at Chelsea in England, captained Australia, which was also short of players.

The Matildas were beaten 1-0 by Sweden in the Olympic semi-finals and finished fourth in Tokyo after losing 1-0 to the United States in the bronze medal match. Canada took the gold, beating the Swedes 3-2 on penalties after the match ended tied at 1-1.

Kerr had the first chance of the match in the fourth minute, rising above Zadorsky to throw a header back which Sheridan managed to fend off in acrobatic fashion.

Sheridan denied Kerr again in the 27th after a through ball put her behind the defence. Sheridan came out and put a leg on the ball with another Emily Gielnik who fired the rebound flying over the crossbar.

Kerr was foiled again in the 37th minute as Sheridan got his hands on his low angle shot, Beckie clearing the ball safely.

Veterans Desiree Scott and Sophie Schmidt, who have 396 caps between them, entered the game for Canada in the 61st minute.

An unmarked Leon had a chance to add to the score in the 67th minute, but Prince’s cross flew just over his head. And a minute later, Williams stopped a hard shot from Sinclair on another stream from Prince. Canada’s captain exited shortly after as Cloe Lacasse and Gabby Carle entered.

Australia couldn’t keep pace with Prince as the game wore on.

Clarissa Larisey and Simi Awujo, 18, came on in the 75th minute for their first Canadian senior caps. Larisey, who plays for Scottish Glasgow Celtic, tested Williams with a shot two minutes later.

Cortnee Vine had a chance to equalize for Australia in the 82nd minute, but her shot curled just wide of the post.

Lacasse had a nice chance in the final minutes of an Awujo setup but, after working hard, swelled his shot.

Canada improved to 7-2-3 in 2022, losing 1-0 to eighth-placed Spain at the Arnold Clark Cup in February and 1-0 to USA at the CONCACAF Women’s Championship .

The Australians fell to 5-3-1 in 2022. They last played in June when a depleted side tied No.27 Portugal 1-1 and were humiliated 7-0 by Spain.

While Australia held a 7-6-3 lead over Canada since the start of the two-game series, the Canadians had lost just two of the last nine meetings (5-2-2) and won 2 -0 in the last encounter. met – in their opening match at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Australia won 2-1 the last time the two played Down Under, in May 2008 in Sydney.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 3, 2022

The Canadian Press


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