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Second-half rally carries Canadian women to 2-0 win over Argentina

SANLÚCAR DE BARRAMEDA, Spain — Facing a physical Argentina side, Canada survived some first-half frustration to rally after the break for a 2-0 win in an international soccer friendly Thursday.
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Canada's Cloe Lacasse, centre, celebrates after scoring her team's second goal during a women's international friendly soccer match between Canada and Argentina in Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Juan Carlos Toro del Rio

SANLÚCAR DE BARRAMEDA, Spain — Facing a physical Argentina side, Canada survived some first-half frustration to rally after the break for a 2-0 win in an international soccer friendly Thursday.

Spanish referee Alberto Sevillano Marín eventually made the Argentine women pay for their take-no-prisoners defending, sending off Marina Delgado in the 57th minute after showing the defender a second yellow. Delgado, who had been cautioned just minutes before, was caught lashing out with an arm and connecting with Canada forward Adriana Leon's throat after the two tangled going after the ball. 

With Bev Priestman's second-half substitutions playing their part, the Canadians turned up the pressure and went ahead on an own goal in the 68th minute and Cloe Lacasse's first senior strike in the 87th.

"I was frustrated, like possibly most people watching in the first half," said Priestman. "I felt we took a while to get going, which I knew we would given we'd only had one real training session going into it."

"But at the end of the day, I'm happy because of the finishers (substitutes) that came in," added Priestman, referencing Quinn (who goes by one name), Lacasse, Evelyne Viens, Clarissa Larisey and Simi Awujo. 

The influence of the subs is a sign of the young depth of the Canadian team, which was missing the injured Christine Sinclair, Ashley Lawrence, Vanessa Gilles, Deanne Rose, Gabrielle Carle and Jayde Riviere.

"It's great that these players are getting experience now for the future," said Priestman.

Priestman pointed to Lacasse's ability to take on defenders, Larisey's speed and the veteran Quinn's ability to move the ball as well as Viens' confidence in her return to the squad.

The seventh-ranked Canadian women now face No. 76 Morocco on Monday at Estadio Municipal de Chapín in Jerez. The games come in the last international window before the Oct. 22 draw in Auckland for next year's FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Canada had 66 per cent possession in the first half but was not clinical in front of goal on a warm evening at Estadio Sanluqueno. And when it did threaten, Argentina goalkeeper Vanina Correa was up to the challenge. No. 31 Argentina, meanwhile, showed its skill on the ball when it had it but failed to put a shot on target in the first 45 minutes.

Bolstered by the reinforcements off the bench and with Argentina down a player, Canada pulled ahead midway through the second half.

Viens, after a nice give-and-go with Awujo, went after a loose ball in the Argentina penalty box. She arrived at the same time as Correa and, in the ensuing collision, the ball bounced back off defender Vanessa Santana into the goal.

Quinn started the play with a ball that sliced open the Argentine defence.

Lacasse made it 2-0 close to the final whistle, tapping home a Larisey cross that bounced off the Argentine 'keeper and dropped at her feet for her first goal in 12 senior appearances. A late Viens goal was negated by offside.

Midfielder Jessie Fleming, earning her 108th cap, wore the captain's armband in the absence of Sinclair. The Canadian starting 11 went into the match with a combined 808 caps.

Kailen Sheridan started in goal behind a back four of Allysha Chapman, Kadeisha Buchanan, Shelina Zadorsky and Bianca St-Georges. Fleming partnered Julia Grosso in the heart of the midfield with Nichelle Prince, Janine Beckie and Leon playing behind striker Jordyn Huitema.

Beckie, who has played both at fullback and wing, took over the No. 10 role in place of Sinclair.

The Argentines felled Leon heavily three times and bodied Huitema to the ground once in the first 30 minutes.

"We got exactly the same thing last time we played Argentina," Priestman said of the rough play. "We were prepared for it. I challenged the group to win every restart rather than focus on the antics that we were going to face.

"I think that kept the team composed. But at the same time it definitely breaks up rhythm and stops you from getting going. They're a difficult team to play against."

The Canadian women have won all six meetings with Argentina, outscoring the South Americans 14-1. But Canada needed a 90th-minute goal by Sarah Stratigakis to prevail 1-0 last time out, in February 2021 at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando.

The previous three meetings, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2011 Pan American Games, were all decided by one goal. 

The Olympic champion Canadians improved to 9-2-3 this year, with the losses coming to the top-ranked U.S. (1-0 in July in the CONCACAF W Championship final) and No. 8 Spain (1-0 in February at the Arnold Clark Cup).

They were coming off wins (1-0 and 2-1) over No. 12 Australia in September.

Like Olympic champion Canada, Argentina and Morocco have qualified for the World Cup, which runs July 20 to Aug. 20 in Australia and New Zealand. 

Argentina booked its ticket by virtue of its third-place finish at the Copa America Femenina in July in Colombia. 

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2022

The Canadian Press

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