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Canada knocks Britain out of women's football

By Jeremy Last

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Aug. 3 2012 5:24 p.m. MDT

Canadian players celebrate after defeating Britain in their quarterfinal women's soccer match at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, in Coventry, England, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012.

Hussein Malla, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

COVENTRY, England — When Canada's Christine Sinclair lined up a free kick outside Britain's penalty area on Friday night she knew exactly where she was going to put it.

So did her coach, and most of her team.

The ball flew over the British wall and into the back of the net to give Canada a 2-0 lead it would not relinquish and a place in the women's Olympic football semifinals.

"Christine practiced that free kick every single training session," Canada coach John Herdman revealed after the game. "When that ball was put down on that spot 90 percent of the team would have thought this is going in. And we knew where it was going. So good on her. Practice makes perfect."

The British had not conceded a goal in three group stage games coming into the quarterfinals, but were undone by defensive mistakes at the City of Coventry Stadium.

Jonelle Filigno scored Canada's opener after 16 minutes when she curled a half volley into the top corner after being left unmarked at a corner.

Sinclair's goal made it 2-0 and Canada's defense did the rest.

Hopes had been high for the British after they beat Brazil in their final group stage game on Wednesday and the match drew a near capacity 29,000 crowd.

But coach Hope Powell's team was unable to match the expectations, and found the Canadian defense too hard to break down.

"I don't think the pressure got to the team," Powell said. "I think they relish playing in front of the crowd. It was a fantastic atmosphere but unfortunately we couldn't get the result, which was disappointing.

"I don't think you can ignore the fact that Canada played well and at times they put us on the back foot. After halftime I think we got better but unfortunately we couldn't find the net."

The Canadians were not overawed by the occasion and began the game strongly. Filigno had their first shot on goal from outside the box in the sixth minute, a stinging long range effort which was comfortably stopped by Britain goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.

Canada deserved to go ahead after just over quarter of an hour. Sophie Schmidt sent a corner to the edge of the box and Filigno got in front of Sophie Bradley to curl a half volley in to the top corner, giving Bardsley no chance.

The goal quietened the crowd which had come expecting to see a victory for the hosts.

Britain pressed forward looking for the equalizer. First Karen Carney fed Jill Scott whose looping effort forced a diving save from Erin Mcleod in the Canadian goal. Then Carney went close with a header.

However, it was the Canadians who scored, when Desiree Scott was fouled on the edge of the box and Sinclair took full advantage. The Canada captain curved her unstoppable free kick over the British wall and into the bottom corner to give her team a surprising 2-0 lead.

Britain had no choice but to flood forward. Right back Alex Scott was dangerous coming forward, but her teammates were unable to get on the end of her crosses into the box.

With 27 minutes left to play, Powell brought Fara Williams on for Ellen White, hoping to inject some verve into her team's play.

But Britain still could not find the net. Midfielder Eniola Aluko appeared to be fouled in the box on 80 minutes, but referee Sachiko Yamagisho waved away the British penalty appeals.

The victory set up a clash between Canada and the USA at Old Trafford on Monday, and Herdman is relishing the opportunity to play the rivals.

"It's going to be a really tough game," he said. "I think the girls with the confidence they've got carrying through, won't fear the US.

"We are going in as underdogs and I think everyone understands that. But I think underdogs rise up in these tournaments, and you see that time and time again. And I expect the girls to rise up."

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