RECAP: CanWNT send Sinclair out in style, beating Australia 1-0 in Vancouver

The Canadian women’s national team said goodbye to its greatest ever player on Tuesday night, as Christine Sinclair played her 331st and final international match. Les Rouges sent out their longtime captain in style, beating Australia 1-0 at Christine Sinclair Place, as BC Place was temporarily renamed.

The night started with emotional pregame ceremonies, honouring the career of Sinclair, as well as longtime teammates Sophie Schmidt and Erin McLeod — who have also announced their retirements from international soccer. All three came out of the tunnel to a guard of honour from the London 2012 Olympic team that the trio were key parts of, as the crowd of 48,112 fans cheered on.

After the anthems, presentations, and photos, there was a match to be played. The cheers continued into the match, of course, with a standing ovation for Sinclair in the 12th minute to honour her iconic shirt number.

After both scored on Friday night in Langford, Cloé Lacasse and Nichelle Prince both took shots within the first 20 minutes of the match, but both missed the target. Lacasse cut inside from the left and took her shot from distance and missed high, while Prince curled a shot toward the far post, but sent it just wide of the mark.

With five minutes to play in the first half, Quinn gave Canada the lead. Jessie Fleming played a corner kick into the box, which was flicked on by Sinclair, before Kadeisha Buchanan volleyed the ball on target, beating Teagan Micah but striking the bottom of the crossbar. Quinn pounced on the rebound quickly, heading home from a few yards out to open the scoring.

Vanessa Gilles thought she doubled Canada’s advantage a few minutes later, rising above everyone to head the ball past Micah and into the back of the net, but the referee called off the goal due to a foul in the leadup to the goal. The Matildas had a couple of opportunities themselves in the opening half, but Ashley Lawrence got back in time to block their most dangerous attempt inside the box.

Quinn’s goal was the difference as the two sides entered halftime with Canada up 1-0.

The number twelve made another appearance in the second half. Twelve minutes after play resumed for the second half, Christine Sinclair’s curtain call had arrived. Replaced by Sophie Schmidt, who was also making the final appearance of a standout national team career, Sinclair walked off the pitch for the final team in a Canadian kit.

Sinclair was embraced by her teammates and coaches as she left the pitch, with the crowd and the Australians giving her a standing ovation. After more than two decades, 331 appearances, and 190 goals, Sinclair’s national team career came to an end.

When play resumed again, Prince did well to speed up the pitch in the 66th minute, holding off a great run from defender Clare Hunt to track back. She was able to get a shot away, looking to pick out the bottom right corner, but again missed just wide of Micah’s goal. Tameka Yallop responded a few minutes later for Australia, getting into a promising position and taking a shot, but her effort went over the bar. Adriana Leon tested Micah at the other end of the pitch, but a weak shot was claimed with relative ease.

Both sides kept pushing for a goal in the latter stages of the match — Canada for a bit of insurance and Australia for an equalizer, but one would never come for either side. As time ran out at Christine Sinclair Place, the camera kept panning to its namesake, met each time by loud cheers as time ticked away on a 1-0 victory for the hosts.

At fulltime, and long after the final whistle, the celebrations continued as Canada’s 2023 schedule ended on a high note — with two victories over one of the top teams in the world, and a fitting farewell to their greatest-ever player.