Canada fall 2-1 to Norway

Canadian PressCanada took an early lead but then crumbled under pressure as Norway scored two second-half goals in a 2-1 win at the FIFA Women's World Cup on Wednesday. Candace Chapman's goal in the 32nd minute had the Canadian women thinking upset, as they opened Group C play. But Ragnhild Gulbrandsen's header in the 52nd minute gave Norway life and Are Stangeland Horpestad put the match away with a late goal off a corner kick. Norway, ranked number four in the world, controlled the second half of the match against number nine-ranked Canada. Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod had to be sharp to keep the match close. Horpestad scored the winner after Canada's Diana Matheson had blocked a Norway corner kick. The ball came to the Norwegian captain, who knocked it into the net. Canadian coach Even Pellerud was forced to watch the game from the stands. FIFA suspended him from the opening match after he was ejected from the Gold Cup final against the USA last November in Carson City, California. Assistant coach Ian Bridge skippered the team. Canada led 1-0 at the half after some hard work by striker Christine Sinclair. Sinclair took a long pass and was trying to muscle her way past two Norwegian defenders, who had collapsed on her when the ball rolled into an open pocket. Chapman stepped in and launched a kick from about 25 yards out that sailed over the outstretched fingers of goalkeeper Bente Nordby. Chapman missed the 2003 World Cup, where Canada finished fourth, with a knee injury. The goal against Norway was her third in four games. She also is just the fourth Canadian to score against Norway. Norway tied the game early in the second half when Gulbrandsen out-leaped two Canadian defenders and headed the ball into the net. McLeod was sensational in a losing effort. In the first half, she leaped into the air and punched a long shot over the goal. In the second half, she dove into the grass to block a hard shot from close in. Canada wanted a positive result to start the tournament, but now needs a win in Saturday's match against number 47-ranked Ghana to keep their hopes of advancing to the second round alive. The Canadians must finish in the top two of the four-team group to advance to the tournament's next round. Canada wraps up first-round play against Australia, ranked 15th, in Chengdu on September 19. In the opening game of Group C, Australia won its first-ever World Cup game with a 4-1 victory over Ghana. The score could have been worse if not for some key saves by Ghana goalkeeper Memunatu Sulemana. Pellerud was permitted to talk to his team in the dressing room before the game and at halftime, but he wasn't allowed to communicate with the coaching staff during the match. The stadium television screen showed the Norway native watching the game from the stands. Canada is winless in nine games against Norway, including three losses in World Cup matches. There were chants of "Canada, Canada" from the crowd of 30,752 on a still, hot night at the Hangzhou Dragon Stadium. The loudest cheer of the night came when the crowd congratulated itself for doing the wave. Heads also turned when some Canadian fans began waving a Maple Leaf. The 52,000-seat facility was built in 2000 as the home of the Hangzhou Dragons of the Chinese professional league. Inside the stadium is a sweeping structure of polished steel and bright orange seats. Outside the facility is a stretch of dubious looking nightclubs. The 16-team World Cup is being played in five cities. The championship match in the 32-game tournament will be played on September 30 at Shanghai's Hongkou Football Stadium.