VANCOUVER, BC - Canada's celebration of the bronze medal winners from the 2016 Olympics drew 22,508 to BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia on Saturday, as Canada beat Mexico 3-2.
Deanne Rose opened the scoring in the 14th minute deftly finishing a strong run. Mexico equalized shortly after through Nancy Antonio's powerful finish. Janine Beckie gave Canada a two-goal cushion, putting her finish through the eye of a needle in the 26th minute, and converting a Christine Sinclair-won penalty in the 40th.
Mexico did what they could to spoil the party, scoring their second in the 59th when Katie Johnson turned in a corner from Mónica Ocampo.
Canada finished strongly, seeing out the game and ending the night with a heartfelt retirement ceremony for Rhian Wilkinson, Marie-Eve Nault, and former Vancouver Whitecaps FC W-League player Melissa Tancredi.
Canada set up in a familiarly fluid 4-3-3 formation with Sarah Stratigakis making her full international debut in the centre of the midfield and Marie-Eve Nault donning the captain's armband in the heart of the defence. The captain for the day was called into action in the 6th minute when Kiana Palacios turned nicely at the top of the box and shaped to shoot. Nault, playing in her final game before retiring was in close attendance and pressured the Mexican forward into screwing her shot wide.
Canada threatened in the ninth minute when Christine Sinclair was given the time and space to drive at the centre of the Mexican defence with the ball at her feet. She slid the ball out to Janine Beckie on the left who showed good patience and vision to cut back onto her right foot and loft a terrific pass towards the back post. Jessie Fleming was steaming in down the right channel and was inches away from connecting to the dropping ball.
Stephanie Labbé was forced to make a save in the 13th minute when Stephany Mayor was able to get to a loose ball at the top of the eighteen yard box and let a shot go. She didn't make full contact, however, and the Canadian keeper was able to gather without any trouble. 30 seconds later Christine Sinclair had a similar chance, her shot again straight down the middle, offering up a straightforward save for Bianca Henninger.
Deanne Rose took it upon herself to open the scoring in the 14th minute. Receiving the ball from Christine Sinclair into her feet with her back to goal, she was able to turn and run towards the goal. She outpaced her marker and dinked the ball over the advancing Henninger with a sliding finish.
Mexico drew level just a minute later when Nancy Antonio was able to intercept an outlet pass. She showed good skill to jink inside one defender before ripping a shot from the top of the penalty area into the left side of the goal, beyond the reach of Stephanie Labbé.
Canada had another scare in the 20th minute when a corner flashed across the face of the goal, eluding the attentions of players for either team.
Janine Beckie was able to put Canada back into the lead in the 26th minute. Canada had a good spell of possession, starting with Allysha Chapman battling well on the left wing. The ball was worked back around to right where it was crossed towards the advancing Sarah Stratigakis. She wasn't able to make contact with the ball, but it was poorly cleared to Beckie at the top of the penalty area. She took a touch to settle the ball, another to make space around an onrushing defender, and then coaxed the ball into the very bottom right of the goal, making the score 2-1 for Canada.
Canada were awarded a penalty in 39th minute when Christine Sinclair was taken down by a prone defender she had just looped the ball over. Janine Beckie stepped up to take the spot-kick and took the score to 3-1 for Canada when she coolly side-footed it to the right side of the goal.
Canada put together a sweeping passing move in the 43rd minute, as Beckie, Fleming, and Stratigakis combined to get the ball out to Chapman on the left flank. Her cross towards the back post was very inviting but just beyond the run of Deanne Rose. In the 46th minute the Canadian front 5 combined well again to get Sinclair the time and space on the edge of the box. She looked to shape a shot into the far corner, but was caught out by the bounce and sent her shot high.
Mexico gave Canada one last scare in the 47th minute. Natalia Gómez-Junco let a shot go from 30 yards out that was floating into the top right corner before Labbé was able to throw herself across the goalmouth, touching the ball onto the bar. The rebound fell to Mayor, but the Canadian keeper was able to recover her shape quickly and smother the follow-up attempt.
Sabrina D'Angelo was brought on as a substitute at half-time and was immediately called into action as Mónica Ocampo was able to power down the left channel, ripping a shot across the face of the goal. D'Angelo sprang to her left to make the save at full stretch.
Janine Beckie was released one on one in the 51st minute. The young forward was able to work the space to take a shot, but couldn't keep her effort on target, extending the wait for her hat-trick.
Mexico continued to cause trouble at corners, often whipping them towards the front post. In the 59th minute Ocampo changed her approach and looped the cross over to the back post. Katie Johnson was left alone in space and was able to cushion a finish into the net first-time, bringing Mexico to within a goal at 3-2.
Canada looked to utilise their own corners, Deanne Rose connecting with Janine Beckie's delivery in the 67th minute. The contact with the header was solid but the young forward's aim was slightly awry, letting the Mexican defence off with a scare.
Mexico won a free-kick in a dangerous in the 73rd minute, right on the top right corner of the penalty area. Substitute María Sánchez wrapped her left-foot around the ball looking to send it into the top left corner of the goal, only missing by inches and shaving the top of the cross bar.
Mayor gave Canada another scare in the 79th minute, a knock-down from a team-mate landing at her feet in the six yard box. Her attempted swept finish was blocked by the massed ranks of the Canadian defence, and substitute Rhian Wilkinson was pulled back by Sanchez in the scramble for the loose ball, bringing the attack to a close.
Sánchez looked to capitalize on a free-kick in the 81st minute, the dead-ball having been awarded for an off the ball obstruction from Zadorsky that she had been shown a yellow card for. It was in a dangerous spot, but D'Angelo was able to watch the ball sail harmlessly over the bar.
Ariana Calderón also had her name taken in the 89th minute, scrapping for a loose ball in the Canadian penalty area with too much gusto for the referee's liking. These were the only yellow cards shown by Melissa Borjas.
The game ended in a 3-2 win for Canada, with all three of the retiring players finishing on the field, Melissa Tancredi having been substituted on in the 76th minute.
LINEUPS & NOTES:
Canada's starting XI featured Stephanie Labbé in goal, Josée Bélanger at right back, Marie-Eve Nault and Shelina Zadorsky at centre back, Allysha Chapman at left back, and Sarah Stratigakis, Desiree Scott, Jessie Fleming, Deanne Rose, Janine Beckie, and captain Christine Sinclair from the midfield up through to the attack.
Coach John Herdman made four substitutions, bringing on Sabrina D'Angelo for Stephanie Labbe at half-time, Rhian Wilkinson replaced Josee Belanger in the 57th minute, Nichelle Prince replaced Sarah Stratigakis in the 72nd minute, and Melissa Tancredi replacing Deanne Rose in the 76th minute.
It was Sarah Stratigakis' international debut.
Mexico's starting XI featured Bianca Henninger in goal, Clarissa Robles at right back, Christina Murillo and Anna Mejia at centre back, Mónica Flores at left back, and Stephany Mayor, Nancy Antonio, Natalia Gómez-Junco, Mónica Ocampo, Katie Johnson and Kiana Palacios in midfield up through to the attack.
Interim Head Coach Roberto Median made five changes, Melissa Flores replaced Clarissa Robles at half-time, Ariana Calderón replacing Kiana Palacios in the 49th minute, Jaqueline Rodriguez replacing Natalia Gómez-Junco in the 58th minute. María Sánchez replacing Mónica Ocampo in the 63rd minute, and Teresa Noyola replaced Stephany Mayor in the 88th minute.