Canada Beats Sweden In A Skirmish For The Women’s Football Gold Medal

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A relentless team with an aging star, solid defense and a talented young core, Canada won its first gold in women’s soccer on Friday, beating Sweden 3-2 in penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw at Yokohama.

Julia Grosso clinched Canada’s victory by transforming her team’s sixth attempt in a shootout that involved more misses (seven) than won (five). When his shot hit Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, his teammates rushed forward from the midfield line they were watching and buried him in a pile of red at the top of the penalty area.

The Swedish players, who took the lead with Stina Blackstenius’ goal in the 34th minute and had many more scoring chances in the regulation and extra time, some of them collapsed onto the field in tears. Sweden lost in the final for the second consecutive Olympics.

Canada has been a bronze medalist in the last two Olympic tournaments, but on Monday beat neighbor and foe the United States in the semi-finals to advance to the final for the first time.

Halfway through, Canada scored a penalty kick from midfielder Jessie Fleming in the 67th minute after a video review confirmed Swedish defender Amanda Ilestedt had fouled Canada’s 38-year-old forward and captain, Christine Sinclair.

Sweden pushed hard for the winner before the final whistle and in overtime and even had a chance to win a shot gold medal, but Caroline Seger shot her team across the crossbar on her fifth attempt.

This opened the door for Canada and after Deanne Rose and Stephanie Labbe made a save, Grosso took the field and recorded the winner.

Fleming’s second-half penalty kick was his second critical goal for Canada this week; He also took a penalty kick for the only goal of the match in which they beat the USA 1-0 in the semi-finals. The United States beat Australia for the bronze.

Canada’s victory over Sweden brought Sinclair, one of her country’s most decorated and famous athletes, her first major international championship. But the Olympic title also means that Quinn, who made it to the finals, is the first transgender and non-binary athlete to win an Olympic medal.

In men’s men, Mexico won the bronze medal by beating host Japan 3-1. Brazil and Spain will face off in the men’s gold medal match on Saturday.

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