PRE – I’m expecting Canada to come out and have a comfortable win in this opener. Other than the no-hopers, Canada probably couldn’t have asked for a better foe in a Chinese side short on big tournament experience. I suspect China will be happy with a draw considering they’re walking into a lion’s den against the tournament hosts. Interesting to see Filigno start over Leon and Belanger continuing at right-back after playing the final friendly there.
3’ – Some slack marking on a long free kick sets Buchanan up at a tight angle. Wang Fei makes a smart double save to keep things on level pegging early.
4’ – Chapman gives it away deep in her own end to set up a corner for China that goes right to McLeod.
8’ – Sinclair times a run beautifully and tries to half-volley on her left but screws it wide.
9’ – Sinclair. Again. The captain weaves through half the Chinese defense but has her threaded ball blocked. Belanger swoops in, but her cross is claimed. Bright stuff from the hosts.
10’ – Wang Lisi cuts inside around some comical attempted defending from Ashley Lawrence and lets fly with an ambitious effort that is a mile off-target.
11’ – Commentary note that Randy Waldrum thinks Erin McLeod is the best goalkeeper in the world. I’ll point out Waldrum also thought Zakiya Bywaters was the best prospect in the 2013 NWSL Draft.
15’ – Sesselmann with a low, flat pass right to China in her own end. The left side of the Canadian backline looks dubious, to say the least, early.
17’ – Chapman has a glorious chance to whip a cross into the box but lifts it into Row Z.
18’ – Tom Sermanni in the stands by Herdman. Kind of feel like he needs some more facial hair in his bid for REVVVVEEEENNNNNGE against the U.S.
19’ – Sesselmann stitches up McLeod with a horrific backpass and is lucky the Canadian keeper is quick off her line to smother.
20’ – Teasing ball from Schmidt lofted in but right to Wang Fei.
21’ – Buchanan is a stud. Obviously. Tremendous recovery speed and power.
22’ – YELLOW CARD – Sesselmann with another awful pass, sending a square ball across the backline that’s intercepted and forces Scott to scythe down Wang Shanshan. Could be a worrying yellow card with two matches to play in group action.
23’ – WOODWORK! – Wang Lisi hammers the free kick off the bar, and it caroms back off the right post. So close. What a strike.
24’ – Belanger’s turn to play a terrible square ball which Scott does just enough to power out of danger. Bad habit for the Canadians.
26’ – Chapman chips a ball on the left flank, but Tancredi struggles to separate from the right-back. Not the best of omens for someone being used as a winger.
27’ – WOODWORK AGAIN! – Chapman hangs a deep cross into the box that Wang Fei should catch, but she punches awkwardly, and it’s cycled back to Belanger who shoots onto the bar.
30’ – Wang Fei catches a free kick and just boots it long quickly for no real reason.
31’ – Chapman is basically functioning as a full-time wing-back on the left, with Buchanan rotating and Scott dropping to center-back.
31’ – Schmidt gets open after some tame closing down but lofts a shot high.
32’ – Tancredi coughs it up near midfield and slows down to a light trot as China moves the other way, Buchanan shoulder charges Li Ying to the floor. Canada is spectacularly bad at marking the resulting free kick, not marking Gu Yasha, who took an eternity to move out to the line. Near post cross headed well wide by Zhao Rong.
36’ – Deflection near the eighteen prompts about four blocked shots and a call for handball for Canada.
37’ – Scott with a brutal pass near midfield right into the path of two Chinese midfielders. Distribution from the back is killing Canada.
38’ – Tancredi hoofs a long ball into the corner towards nobody making a run. Woof.
40’ – Canada is playing with a pretty deep line against a team that doesn’t seem to have comparable pace up top.
42’ – SUB – Han Peng for Wang Lisi for China. Probably an injury.
45’ – Wang Fei is way out from her line on a long free kick from McLeod but tracks back and grabs. Brave positioning.
45’ + 1’ – Tancredi with a poor knockdown from a long diagonal ball that heads tamely out. Buchanan down injured after slipping on the turf with the delivery. Ack.
HT – Some nice shots off the woodwork but short on quality overall. Tancredi and Sesselmann have been poor for Canada. China doesn’t seem to have enough pace in attack to trouble Canada in the run of play. Gotta wonder if Canada will try and player with a higher line to put more pressure on the Chinese defense.
48’ – Chapman cuts inside and loses possession as she gets pulled to the turf. China, smartly, counters right up that vacated flank. A corner right after is hit to the eighteen with nobody there. Wasteful.
51’ – Buchanan seems to have a greater license to roam this half, which certainly works considering her skill on the ball. As I type that, she hoofs a long, low ball out for a goal kick.
52’ – Wang Fei takes a bad first touch off a back pass and nearly gifts it to Tancredi. Chapman tazzes out and fights for a ball at the far corner, but Schmidt’s cross into the box is awful.
53’ – Lawrence’s cross is blocked. Canada’s crosses have been dreadful all match long.
55’ – Schmidt goes down after a clash of heads at midfield but is fine after a bit of treatment on the sideline.
57’ – OPTA graphic on the Beeb says that China’s attacks are going through the right side 60% of the time, likely taking advantage of Chapman’s advanced positioning.
57’ – China play the same wide ball of a free kick they did in the first half, though Canada are fractionally faster to cover. McLeod is indecisive on the cross and would’ve been dead to rights if the Chinese player had been a bit taller or a bit better jumper. It breaks down before a long pass into the box drifts out.
60’ – Buchanan is a great defender and great with the ball at her feet, but her passing leaves much to be desired as she hoofs another long ball out.
61’ – SUB – Kyle for Filigno for Canada. Not sure that’s a sub I would’ve made chasing a goal.
62’ – SUB – Zhang Rui for Li Ying for China. One less neon yellow headband on the pitch. Scott in a wrestling match near the sideline for a foul. It’s not very good.
64’ – Belanger springs Kyle with a beautiful pass to the endline, but Kyle makes a hash of the cross, right to Wang Fei. Right pass, wrong player.
66’ – China struggles to clear a long free kick, but Scott rips the resulting shot high and wide.
67’ – From good to bad, as Scott plays another poor short pass, and Han Peng has a go from range but whacks it into Row Z.
68’ – Chapman really likes to cut inside, and Canada works it to the endline. The cross is poor though, which is a general theme for the hosts today.
71’ – SUB – Fleming in for Scott in a sub for Canada that should have been done about five to ten minutes ago. A point’s not good for the home side.
73’ – China swarms on a Belanger backpass, but Buchanan covers well and draws a foul. Chinese side just doesn’t have the athleticism up front to beat Buchanan.
75’ – Han Peng tries to backheel inside when she should just spray a pass outside to the left-back letting Canada create something the other way. That something is a long ball that Schmidt can’t get to. Arrrrgh.
76’ – China floods the box instead of sending someone out to challenge Chapman’s cross, which is probably a smart move considering the level of Canada’s crosses. This one is better, but Sinclair kind of chests it/China defender nicks it away.
77’ – SUB – Leon on for the disappointing Tancredi. This game could’ve used her injection of pace and energy a while ago.
82’ – Fleming and Sinclair hook up for some nice passes on the ground before Schmidt chests, traps, and taps back to a shockingly unmarked Sinclair at the edge of the area. Her shot is a light tapper that Wang Fei holds easily. Wasted opportunity.
83’ – Schmidt from range. Nice effort but just a bit wide. Nothing wrong with that from her.
87’ – SUB – Han Peng takes a ball into the stomach and gets stretched by the trainer. That looks painful. China brings on Ma Jun for Gu Yasha.
89’ – Wang Fei briefly drops a Belanger cross, but it was still a lot of nothing. If you’re going to be a long ball side, you’ve gotta cross better than what Canada’s shown today.
90’ + 1’ – PENALTY! – Head tennis in the box, and Leon absorbs a forearm to the face to draw the penalty. China in disbelief, to say the least. Read that that was a point of emphasis made by refs to teams…
90’ + 2’ – GOAL – Canada (Sinclair PK) – Of course she scores. Low and placed into the left corner. They’re out of jail.
FT – Canada 1 (Sinclair PK 90’ + 2’) – 0 China – Canada guts it out after an awful display short on offensive guile and creativity. Diagonal balls into the box or long Schmidt shots. Defense was sloppy with passing, which is going to be punished against better teams. Wouldn’t shock me if Kyle or Leon or both start for Tancredi or Filigno in match two. China defended bravely, and Wang Fei showed well in goal. However, they’re seriously limited in attack and didn’t threaten from open play, so I think they’re still unlikely to finish off bottom. Hopefully better to come from this tournament.