Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Soccer: Canada - Sweden live blog

First half:

30: Apologies for the late start here: some technical difficulties on my end delayed the launch. It's been a pretty good match so far. The Swedes are playing well, and they lead 1-0 off a nice 19th minute goal by Lotta Schelin, who broke right through the middle of the Canadian defence and fired home from close range. Canada's far from out of it, though.

32: It's nice to see striker Melissa Tancredi back from injury: she's a good complement to Christine Sinclair and Kara Lang up front.

38: A good chance for Canada, as both Lang and Emily Zurrer dive for a header in the opposing box, but neither can get much on the ball.

41: A Swedish striker breaks through, but is called offside.

43: Another decent Canadian chance after a long run by Sinclair, but it amounts to nothing.

45: Sweden breaks through again, but another offside call nullifies their advance. The whistle blows, and it's still 1-0 at the half.

Halftime: Well, not a bad first half from the Canadians, but not as strong as a performance as they turned in against China or Argentina. Still, they had their chances, and with a bit of luck, this could be a tie game right now. One nice thing is that the Canadians are already through [CBC.ca] regardless of what happens here, thanks to an early-morning Germany win over North Korea. Still, if they win, they could still claim top spot in the group and get an easier match in the next round.

Second half:
46: Canadian substitution: Amy Walsh on, Sophie Schmidt off. A straight midfielder-for-midfielder swap: Canada's still playing a 4-3-3 formation, more defensive than the 3-4-3 they utilized against Argentina.

47: An early chance for Sweden, but handled nicely by goalkeeper Erin McLeod.

49: Tancredi makes a good run and earns a Canadian corner. The ball's cleared by the Swedish defense to Diana Matheson, who chips it in for Tancredi. She knocks it wide but a poor call gives Canada another corner. Off the resulting corner, Zurrer makes a strong run into the box but heads wide.

50: Goal, Sweden. A great counterattack sees captain Victoria Svensson make an excellent run through the Canadian defence and break in alone on goal with Schelin, who she sets up for an easy tap-in. It's now a 2-0 Sweden lead.

53: Another good Swedish chance, but the ball is cleared from the box by Matheson.

55: Sweden is still pouring pressure on: Svensson evades several tackles and gets the ball to Sara Thunebro, who sends a great cross in for Jessica Landstrom. Landstrom heads wide, though. Canada really needs to respond with pressure of their own to have a chance in this match.

56: Props to the CBC for deciding to show this whole match during their morning Olympic show, though: this has been quality soccer so far, and it's far better than a bunch of highlights.

57: Schelin breaks in again and is one-on-one with a Canadian defender, but is called back for a late foul call against Sweden.

58: Another Schelin run earns a Swedish corner.

59: The corner bounces around in the Canadian box for a while, but is cleared by Sinclair. Canada's still pinned in their own end, though: they need to start attacking. Switching to a 3-4-3 might not be a bad start: they're losing the midfield battle quite badly.

62: CBC analyst Jason de Vos is quite critical of manager Even Pellerud's tactics, which favour going straight for goal instead of long possession buildups. I agree that Canada needs to control the midfield more, but those tactics have worked pretty well for Canada to this point. Also, Canada's biggest strength is the strike force, not the midfield, so a direct approach has that to recommend it as well.

64: Goal, Canada. Walsh makes a quick impact after coming in, chipping a beautiful ball in for Tancredi, who makes no mistake, heading home from eight yards out. 2-1, Sweden. Canada's back in this, despite being outchanced by quite a margin so far.

67: Substitution, Canada: 19-year-old striking phenom Jodi-Ann Robinson comes on for team captain Sinclair. Sinclair had taken a bit of a knock earlier, so as the CBC commentators speculated, this might be a preventative measure to protect her for the next round. Robinson's got plenty of talent, though, and her fresh legs might make things happen offensively.

69: Robinson almost makes an immediate impact, coming up just short on a ball into the box which is collected by Swedish keeper Hedvig Lindahl.

71: Lang collects a ball in the box with her back to goal, makes a great turn and gets a shot away past two sliding defenders, but fires just high. The Canadians are playing much better now, and are generating plenty of chances.

72: Some good Canadian defending nullifies a Swedish chance.

73: Swedish midfielder Therese Sjogran makes a tremendous run and blasts a 20-yard shot at the net, but McLeod does well to punch it over the bar. The resulting corner is quickly cleared.

75: Tancredi lets fly from 22 yards out, and just misses the top-left corner. Lindahl was slightly out of position, so that was certainly a worthwhile attempt.

80: Landstrom breaks through for Sweden, but is quickly closed down by Candace Chapman. Corner to Sweden, but it's cleared quickly.

81: Substitution, Canada: Robyn Gayle comes in for Emily Zurrer. A defender-for-defender switch. Not a bad idea to give Gayle some experience, but I would have preferred a more offensive-minded substitution: perhaps bringing Brittany Timko in.

83: Sweden creates a good chance, but Robinson comes back to help clear the lines.

86: Time's starting to run out for Canada: they'll have to create something soon here to have a chance at tying the match.

87: Svensson sets up Landstrom for a great run, but she fires wide in the end.

88: Svensson lets fly from just outside the box , but puts it just wide. The Swedes are still going for goal, even with a lead. Canada's pinned in their own end.

90: Canada is still having a tough time creating anything. Three minutes of stoppage time added.

93: Robinson makes a last run forward, but is quickly closed down by the Swedish defence. They clear, and the match ends 2-1 for Sweden. Disappointing that Canada couldn't take a point, but Sweden is certainly a very good team, and the Canadians did well to stick with them.

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