Canada Beats Sweden in a Shootout for the Women’s Soccer Gold Medal
Canada, a relentless team with an aging star, strong defense and a talented young core, won their first gold in women’s soccer on Friday, beating Sweden in penalties, 3-2, after a draw 1 -1 in Yokohama.
Julia Grosso took Canada to victory by turning her team’s sixth attempt into a shootout that included more misses (seven) than goals (five). When her shot fell on Swedish goalie Hedvig Lindahl, her teammates rushed out of the halfway line where they had observed her and buried her in a pile of red at the top of the penalty area.
The Swedish players, who had taken the lead on a Stina Blackstenius goal in the 34th minute and created many more chances to score in regulation and overtime, collapsed on the turf, some in tears. Sweden lost in the final for the second consecutive Olympic Games.
Canada had been bronze medalists in the last two Olympic tournaments, but qualified for the final for the first time by beating neighbor and nemesis, the United States, in the semifinals on Monday.
Trailing at half-time, Canada tied the score in the 67th minute on a penalty from midfielder Jessie Fleming, awarded after a video confirmed Swedish defender Amanda Ilestedt fouled Christine Sinclair, the 38-year-old striker and captain of Canada.
Sweden pushed for the winner before the final whistle and again in extra time, and they even had a chance to win the shootout gold, but Caroline Seger shot over the bar cross during his team’s fifth attempt.
This opened the door for Canada, and after Deanne Rose scored and Stephanie Labbe made a save, Grosso got there and scored the winner.
Fleming’s second-half penalty kick was his second critical goal for Canada this week; she also scored a penalty for the lone goal of a 1-0 victory over the United States in the semifinals. The United States beat Australia for bronze.
Canada’s victory over Sweden provided the first major international championship for Sinclair, one of her country’s most decorated and celebrated athletes. But the Olympic title also means that Quinn, who started the final, became the first openly transgender, non-binary athlete to win an Olympic medal.
On the men’s side, Mexico beat host Japan 3-1 to win the bronze medal. Brazil and Spain will meet in the men’s gold medal match on Saturday.
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