Match Analysis: Canada 2-1 Chile — Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Group E Matchday #2
Final Score: Canada 2-1 Chile
Goalscorers: Beckie (38′, 47′), Araya (57′)

Match in a minute or less

Canada fans who stayed up well into the night on Saturday to watch their team play Chile were rewarded, as a brace from Janine Beckie propelled her team to a 2-1 victory.

Bev Priestman made three changes to her side, bringing Julia Grosso, Jayde Riviere and Kailen Sheridan into the starting lineup. Exiting the first eleven were Quinn, Allysha Chapman and Stephanie Labbé. Labbé left Canada’s opening match with an injury, so Sheridan getting the start in goal always seemed like a possibility.

Kadeisha Buchanan thought she gave Canada an early lead, pushing forward and finding herself alone in front of goal. Her initial shot was saved, but the ball came straight back, striking her arm and redirecting into the goal. The goal would be called back for the handball, however, and the score remained 0-0.

Canada had another chance to take the lead about 10 minutes later — from the penalty spot after a VAR review determined Christine Sinclair was brought down in the box. Janine Beckie stepped up to take it, and had the goalkeeper beat as Christiane Endler dived the wrong way, but her shot struck the outside of the post and away from danger.

Beckie recovered brilliantly, giving Canada the lead in the 38th minute. After a cross into the box was punched away by Endler, the Manchester City forward pounced on the rebound. She took a touch and fired the ball into the back of the net, making up for her earlier error, and giving Canada the 1-0 advantage they would take into halftime. She’d double the lead moments into the second half, getting on the end of a through ball from Nichelle Prince before dribbling around Endler and easily putting the ball into the empty goal.

That duo linked up well for the hour they were on the pitch together, and nearly gave Canada a third in the 51st minute. After a mesmerizing run from Prince saw her beat several Chilean defenders, she slid the ball to Beckie, whose redirection toward goal went just wide of the far post.

After VAR handed a penalty to Chile following a foul by Shelina Zadorsky, Karen Araya stepped up and placed her shot into the bottom left corner. It was their first-ever goal at the Olympics, and cut Canada’s lead in half just before the hour mark. The woodwork would bail out Canada in the middle of the second half, as María José Urrutia’s first-time strike toward goal came crashing back off the crossbar, denying her team the equalizer that they were pushing for, and that they would never find.

Canada held down the fort defensively for the remainder of the match, and saw out an important 2-1 victory as they took another step toward a spot in the quarterfinals.

Three Observations

Beckie bounces back from penalty miss to lead Canada to victory

After firing a penalty off the post in the 20th minute, Janine Beckie didn’t let her mistake faze her, immediately seeking to redeem herself. Taking a shot from long-distance that went well over the bar a few minutes later, it was clear that she wanted a goal, and in the 38th minute she got it.

She picked up the ball at the edge of the area, took a touch to line up a shot, and fired the ball past a scrambling Christiane Endler to make it 1-0 for Canada. She scored a second goal moments after the break, rounding the Chilean goalkeeper and sliding the ball into the empty net to double the lead.

After her first goal, Beckie looked untouchable at times, as her confidence seemed to skyrocket. She was dribbling past players and linking up well with her teammates, especially Nichelle Prince on the opposite flank as the duo repeatedly cut inside. All the defenders could do was foul her at times, as she continued to have the upper-hand.

Penalty conceded piles pressure onto Canadian backline

For the second match in a row, Canada conceded a penalty — this time however, the opposition made them pay for it.

While Stephanie Labbé’s heroics — saving a penalty after injuring herself minutes earlier — was one of the major storylines from the Japan match earlier in the week, it was a different story on Saturday, as Karen Araya stepped up and fired her shot into the bottom left corner, bringing Chile back into the match.

Canada can’t afford to concede penalties, especially when great scoring chances haven’t been easy to come by, and won’t get any easier against a strong Great Britain team and into the knockout rounds. Canada created, and converted, more scoring chances than they did against Japan, but the penalty gave Chile a spark that saw them pick up the pace and cause a lot of problems.

It piled stress onto a Canadian backline that, while impressive for the better part of 180 minutes in the tournament thus far, has had to fend off late pressure in both of their matches at Tokyo 2020. Chile were unable to take advantage and tie it up, but a more clinical side might have.

Youngsters continue to impress in big moments

There were strong performances from plenty of Canadians on Saturday, but three players in their early-20s stood out during their time on the pitch.

Getting their first starts at the Olympic Games, Jayde Riviere and Julia Grosso hardly put a foot wrong, while Deanne Rose was a super-sub once again for Bev Priestman.

Riviere, taking over at right back after Ashley Lawrence was moved to left back, was lively in attack on the right side, often finding the ball at her feet to either play a ball down the line to Nichelle Prince, or pass it more centrally to one of Jessie Fleming, Desiree Scott or Grosso. Defensively she showed off her ability to be in the right place at the right time, making smart interceptions and using her pace to run down Chilean attackers.

Starting in place of Quinn in midfield, Grosso was an effective partner for Desiree Scott, linking all parts of the pitch with her eye for a pass, and not being afraid to get stuck in defensively. She didn’t hesitate from throwing herself into challenges for the ball, and found pockets of space to receive (and then play) passes.

Finally, Rose came on in the second half, and provided a spark to a Canada attack that was starting to show some signs of fatigue. She was causing a lot of problems for a tiring Chile defence, using her physicality to challenge those tasked with marking her, and speeding past those who couldn’t keep up. Her first touch was excellent, and she created a couple of chances for her teammates in a brilliant 30-minute shift.

There was a lot of positives to take from the trio, who will continue to play a big role as the tournament progresses. Player of the Match

Janine Beckie, Canada

Despite missing her early penalty, Janine Beckie was a force to be reckoned with on Saturday, scoring both of Canada’s goals and linking up well with her teammates.

What’s Next?

Canada play their final match in the group stage against Great Britain on Tuesday, July 27 (7 am EST, 8 pm JST). Chile take on the hosts Japan at the exact same time as Group E action comes to a close.