Canada, who won bronze at the last two Olympics, are guaranteed silver or gold after a Jessie Fleming penalty wins the game. The USA will fight for bronze.
Canada have beaten the USA by a single goal to secure their place in the women’s Olympic football gold medal match on 5 August.
The Canadian team, bronze medallists at the last two Olympic Games, converted a 73rd-minute penalty to beat pre-tournament favourites the USA 1-0.
Jessie Fleming’s goal proved the difference, in a closely fought match that saw goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who saved three penalties in the quarterfinal against the Netherlands, substituted after half an hour following a collision on the edge of the penalty box.
The penalty that won the match for Canada, was awarded after Tierna Davidson fouled Deanne Rose. It left Fleming with the task of scoring a spot-kick to send Canada into the final, which she duly dispatched even though substitute goalkeeper Adrianna Franch guessed the right way.
The USA led in all the important stats, with 13 shots compared to Canada’s 3 and 60 per cent possession. But none of that mattered when the final whistle blew as a jubilant Canada booked their place in perhaps the most important match in their history.
Canada and the USA have not met in Olympic competition since the two faced off in the semi-finals of London 2012. In that match, the USA were victors, winning 4-3 after a 123rd-minute Alex Morgan goal settled the tie. However, this game had a different aura about it, after the USA team – four-time gold medallists at the Games – had failed to score in two out of the four games they had played in this tournament. That statistic has now been extended to five, after the team failed to find the net against a spirited Canada defence.
After the game, USA legend Megan Rapinoe couldn’t hide her disappointment. “We just didn’t have it today,” she said. “Just too many errors from us again. I felt like space was there for us to play and we just couldn’t get into it too many touches or, you know, an errant touch. That’s football. They got, I think, one shot on goal, a PK, and from what it sounds like it was a PK. So yeah, it’s a bitter one to swallow.”
Canada now head into the final with the wind in their sails after beating their southern neighbours for the first time since March 2001. The final will be played against either Sweden or Australia, who meet at 8pm this evening in the second semi-final.
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