CanWNT battles back to earn draw vs. Brazil in Tournoi de France finale

In terms of results, the Tournoi de France turned out to be a bit of a bust for the Canadian women’s team.

But as far as Olympic preparation goes, it’ll be interesting to see what valuable lessons, if any, the Canadians learned in France as they gear up for this summer’s Tokyo Games.

Canada valiantly battled back from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw with Brazil on Wednesday in Calais in its final match of the Tournoi de France, a result that sends the Canadians home without a win at this four-nations competition.

The Reds dropped a 1-0 decision to France in its opening game, and was then held to a 0-0 draw by the Netherlands, who played most of the second half with 10 players after their starting goalkeeper was red carded.

The Canadian team is now 8-8-7 all-time against Brazil. The Canadians won when the two nations met for the bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Canada carried the bulk of the attacking play and looked very dangerous early on, but it was Brazil who opened the scoring in the eighth minute. Marta split two Canadian defenders and hit a low driving shot from 12 yards out that beat Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe and nestled inside the far post.

Ludmila da Silva doubled the South Americans’ advantage in the 17th minute, scoring from in close after Labbe couldn’t hold onto a Brazilian ball played across the box.

Veteran midfielder Diana Matheson came off the bench to score her 19th career goal (in 206 appearances) in the second half to give Canada a life line. After Brazil had a player red carded, Janine Beckie netted the equalizer on a breakaway in the final minutes of regulation time off a brilliant setup by Matheson.

This is the inaugural edition of the Tournoi de France, an invite-only competition that sees the four nations involved play each other in a round-robin format with no knockout round to follow.

France plays the Netherlands later on Tuesday in its final match, but the host nation has already won the tournament – the French top the table with six points from their first two games, ahead of the Netherlands, Canada and Brazil (each with two points).

The Netherlands is third in the current FIFA rankings, followed by France (No. 4), Canada (No. 9) and Brazil (No. 9). Like the Canadians, the Dutch and Brazilians have qualified for this summer’s Olympics and are using the Tournoi de France as preparation for the Tokyo Games.

Canada’s roster for this tournament featured all 20 players who participated in the recent Concacaf Olympic qualifiers. Matheson and centre back Vanessa Gilles were the two additions to Canada’s 22-player roster.

Matheson made her return to the national team at the Tournoi de France following a year-long absence due to a foot injury. She sat out last summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, and her last appearance for the Canadian women’s team prior to this tournament was on March 1, 2019 in an Algarve Cup game versus Scotland.

Seventeen members of this roster were part of the Canadian squad that won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Games, while Matheson, Christine Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt, and Desiree Scott were also bronze medallists in 2012 in London.

Canada returns to action on April 14 when it hosts Australia (ranked seventh in the world) in a friendly at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium in its first home game of 2020. Canada has three wins and one draw in its last six meetings versus Australia, dating back to 2002.

The Australia contest is the first for the Canadian women’s team in Vancouver since they battled to a 1-1 draw with the United States on Nov. 9, 2017.