Canada’s women’s soccer team hit Olympic semifinals after a thrilling win over Brazil in penalty kicks on Friday in Tokyo.
Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé came up huge with a crucial save on Brazil’s Rafaelle on the final penalty kick, after Vanessa Gilles scored on Canada’s fifth kick, to send the defending Olympic bronze-medallists back into the medal rounds.
After 120 minutes without a goal, Canada’s Christine Sinclair won the coin toss and elected for Canada to kick first. Sinclair took the first shot, but was denied by a diving Barbara, giving Brazil the early advantage.
Brazil kept the pressure on Canada, finding the back of the net on its first three kicks by Marta, Dabinha and Erika.
But Canada kept pace with a string of goals from Jessie Fleming, Ashley Lawrence and Adriana Leon – who had only come into the game in the 104th minute to replace Janine Beckie.
The turning point came with Labbé’s first save, a diving stop on Andressa to take the edge away from Brazil. Then, a clutch goal from Vanessa Gilles put the pressure back on the Brazilians, setting up Labbé to play the hero with her second save of the shootout.
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