In its maiden appearance in the women’s football final, Canada beat Sweden 3-2 in the penalty shoot-outs to claim gold at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.
After Sweden had established an early lead, Canada made a spirited comeback in the second half to equalise and then preserved the 1-1 score-line till the end of the extra-time.
Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe realised the golden dream in the shoot-outs where she saved two crucial shots to take the advantage away from the favourites.
Sweden took 2-1 lead in the penalties as Nathalie Bjorn and Olivia Schough found the target. Jessie Fleming was the only successful player for Canada, which saw three players failing in successive attempts. Deanne Rose scored in Canada’s fifth attempt after Swedish captain Caroline Seger had shot over to see the opponents tied 2-2.
Labbe saved Sweden defender Jonna Andersson’s attempt in the sudden death to open the golden opportunity for Canada. Midfielder Julia Grosso made no mistake from the spot to spark wild celebrations.
Sweden, the silver medallist in the Rio Olympics, had gained a greater share of ball possession as Canada appeared content at defending. Sweden came close to scoring in the 17th minute when Fridolina Rolfo’s left-footed attempt was blocked by Labbe. It converted the advantage to a goal in the 34th minute when Stina Blackstenius volleyed home a cross from Real Madrid midfielder Kosovare Asllani. With the amount of leverage it gained from controlling the pace of the game in the opening half, Sweden could well have had a greater lead than the lone goal it managed.
As Sweden tried to focus on defence in an attempt to preserve its lead, Canada came out of its shell and combined well to put pressure.
Canada pressed hard for the equaliser and was rewarded in the 64th minute when a VAR review confirmed that Sweden defender Amanda Ilestedt had fouled Canada captain Christine Sinclair inside the box. Jessie Fleming scored the leveller in the resultant penalty.
Canada, the bronze medallist in the previous two Olympics in London and Rio, thus became the fourth team to win the women’s football gold after the United States (four titles), Norway and Germany.
The result: Canada 1(3) (Jessie Fleming 67-pen) bt Sweden 1(2) (Stina Blackstenius 34) in penalty shoot-outs.
The penalty shoot-outs| Canada: Jessie Fleming (scored 1-0), Ashley Lawrence (missed 1-1), Vanessa Gilles(missed 1-2), Adriana Leon (missed 1-2), Deanne Rose (scored 2-2), Julia Grosso (scored 3-2).
Sweden - Kosovare Asllani (missed 0-0), Nathalie Bjorn (scored 1-1), Olivia Schough (scored 2-1), Anna Anvegard (missed 2-1), Caroline Seger (missed 2-1), Jonna Andersson (missed 2-2)