June 25th, 2024

Brazil scores in stoppage time, finally beating Kailen Sheridan, to edge Canada 1-0

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on October 28, 2023.

MONTREAL – Debinha scored on a deflection in stoppage time to lift Brazil to a 1-0 win over Canada on Saturday afternoon in a game that marked the beginning of the end of captain Christine Sinclair’s international career.

The goal was a cruel blow to goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan whose heroics had kept Canada in the game. But Sheridan had no chance when the 95th-minute shot hit a defender and went the other way. A Canadian turnover paved the way for the Brazilian last-second attack.

Sinclair entered the game in the 68th minute to an ovation from the sold-out crowd of 19,619 at Saputo Stadium. But the Brazilians were in control when the 40-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., came on.

The Brazilians turned it on as the clock wound down but were unable to beat an acrobatic Sheridan until literally the last kick. And there was more late drama off the field with one of the assistant referees limped off the field.

Defender Vanessa Gilles had a glorious chance in stoppage time off a free kick but goalkeeper Leticia came up big for Brazil

The two teams meet again Tuesday at a sold-out Wanderers Ground in Halifax.

Sinclair will then call time on her Canada career with a pair of games against No. 11 Australia in her backyard – Dec. 1 at Langford’s Starlight Stadium and Dec. 5 at Vancouver’s B.C. Place Stadium.

“Across these four games, fans that come to see Sinc will get to see Sinc in the game,” Canada coach Bev Priestman said prior to the game.

But they had to wait Saturday, although they got a good view of Sinclair warming up with the other substitutes during halftime. Jessie Fleming, seen as Sinclair’s heir apparent as captain, led the team out.

It marked just the 16th time in 328 appearances that Sinclair has not started for Canada – but the fourth this year.

The Brazil and Australia games also mark the start of Canada’s road – or a “sprint” as Priestman called it – to the Paris Olympics next July. The Olympic champion Canadians booked their ticket to Paris in September with a 4-1 aggregate victory over No. 37 Jamaica.

There was a festive feel to Saturday’s game with fans lined up pitchside cheering the Canadian goalkeepers as they came out to warm up. And the volume increased when the Canadian outfield players emerged.

“I hate it but I love it, at the same time,” Sinclair, no fan of the spotlight, said of the attention prior to the match.

Before kickoff, Sinclair exchanged jerseys with Canada hockey captain Marie-Philip Poulin to cheers. On Friday, Sinclair was presented with a CF Montreal jersey with her number from club president and CEO Gabriel Gervais.

“#12. Thank you is not enough” read one sign in the stands.

Sinclair, who plans to play one more season with the NWSL’s Portland Thorns, leads all men and women with 190 international goals. And her 328 caps are second only to retired American Kristin Lilly’s 354.

Eight of those goals have come against Brazil, with Sinclair opening her account against the South Americans back in November 2006, in a 4-2 Canada win at the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea.

Goals No. 64, 92, 112, 119, 132, 133, 137 and 165 came against Brazil.

It was a sunny 14 degrees Celsius at kickoff with a good number of yellow-clad Brazil fans behind one goal.

Sheridan started behind a backline of Gills, Kadeisha Bucana a Buchanan. Ashley Lawrence and Sydney Collins served as wingbacks with Quinn, who goes by one name, and Fleming in midfield and Adriana Leon, Nichelle Prince and Cloe Lacasse up front.

The formation turned into a back five when Brazil attacked.

The 37-year-old Marta, like Sinclair a veteran of six World Cups, captained Brazil.

The Canadians came out with purpose, with Brazil hard-pressed initially to hang onto the ball. But the Brazilians grew into the game.

Fleming went down early and exited in the 22nd minute, handing the captain’s armband to Buchanan as Julia Grosso came on.

A header goal by Gilles in the 28th minute was waved off for offside after a Canadian corner. Two minutes later, Brazil came close but could not get a foot on a low cross raked across the front of goal.

Sheridan made a fine save to deflect an Adriana shot headed to the top corner in the 32nd minute. Ten minutes later, a lunging Leon could not get a foot to a Grosso cross.

Canada had a glorious chance in first-half stoppage time when a stumble by Brazilian defender allowed Prince a straight route to goal. She sent the ball over to Leon, whose shot hit Prince as it headed toward goal. The ball may have come off the post if Prince hadn’t been in the way but still the Canadian attacker held her head as the chance went missing.

Jordyn Huitema and Jayde Riviere came on for Canada in the 57th minute. Marta exited for Brazil soon after.

Sheridan stopped Debinha at close-range in the 62nd minute. The San Diego Wave ‘keeper made another diving save 10 minutes later, doing it again on the ensuring corner.

Brazil appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty for handball in the 74th minute when Rose went down.

Saturday’s game was the first for the women in Montreal since October 2021 when they defeated New Zealand 1-0 as part of their celebration tour following the Tokyo Olympics. Canada Soccer said it was the biggest crowd for a national team game at Saputo Stadium. A 1-1 draw with the Netherlands at the 2015 Women’s World Cup drew 45,000 at the adjacent Olympic Stadium.

Canada came into the game with a 12-10-7 career record against Brazil, winning 2-0 the last time they met in February in Nashville at the SheBelieves Cup.

Like Canada, Brazil came home early from the FIFA World Cup this summer. The Brazilians failed to reach the knockout round, finishing third in Group F with a 1-1-1 record after beating Panama 3-0, losing 2-1 to France and drawing Jamaica 0-0.

Veteran coach Pia Sundhage stepped down after the tournament with Arthur Elias taking over. Elias led Corinthians to four Brazilian championships and two Copa Libertadores titles.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on X platform, formerly known as Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2023

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