Canadian women’s national team takes lumps in exhibition win against Argentina

As a developing women’s soccer country, Argentina do not have the talent to match Canada on the field, so it attempted to make up the difference by defending in numbers and tackling with extreme prejudice

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Prepare to be frustrated seemed to be the takeaway for the Canadian women’s national soccer team in an exhibition game against Argentina at the Estadio Sanluqueño in Cadiz, Spain on Thursday.

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As a developing women’s soccer country, Argentina does not have the talent to match Canada on the field, so it attempted to make up the difference by defending in numbers and tackling with extreme prejudice.

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Canada was able to prevail 2-0, but had to work hard for the victory and needed plenty of ice bags tending to bruises after the match.

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For those familiar with Argentine soccer, it was not a surprise how they approached the game against the defending Olympic champions. Nor was it shocking Argentina did not finish the game with 11 players on the field.

Canada was on the receiving end of a number of hard challenges, which could be a preview of what to expect at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as the tournament expands from 24 to 32 teams.

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The larger field is expected to widen the gap between the established women’s soccer powers and the developing countries, paving the way for a number of blow outs.

As a relative newcomer to the women’s game, Argentina did not want to be embarrassed against Canada as it too prepares to participate in Australia and New Zealand next summer. Argentina kept most of its players behind the ball and rarely ventured too far beyond its own half. Despite being an exhibition game, Argentina also did not hesitate in plowing through its opponents when the opportunities arose.

Canada, on the other hand, were looking to put in another solid performance, building off a pair of victories against Australia in Brisbane and Sydney in September.

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It took some time for Canada to find its rhythm, spending a majority of the first half picking themselves off the grass after a number of late challenges, which the Spanish referee seemed unwilling to crack down on, keeping the yellow card in his pocket.

Canada’s chances to score in the first half were limited to a pair of close-range opportunities for Adriana Leon, who squandered both of them.

Leon, 29, who made the move from West Ham to Manchester United this season and scored all three goals in the two wins against Australia, was in the crosshairs of the Argentine defenders all game and took the brunt of the punishment.

The Mississauga, Ont., product should have put Canada up 10 minutes into the game, when she got to the end of a low cross from Nichelle Prince off the left wing. Leon, uncharacteristically, however, failed to connect cleanly with her left foot and had the ball pop up and hit her arm before it rolled into the net. The goal was correctly waved off and Argentina awarded a free kick.

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Later in the half, Leon had a similar opportunity off an identical cross from Prince, but shot the ball right at Argentina goalkeeper Vanina Correa, who stopped it in self defence.

In the second half, the recklessness eventually caught up to Argentina as centre back Marina Delgado picked up two cautions in five minutes and was sent off. Delgado was first booked for a cynical challenge against Jessie Fleming along the sideline in front of the Canadian bench, which the referee could not ignore.

Just five minutes later, Delgado got tangled with Leon and ended up karate chopping the Canadian striker in the throat. The second yellow card earned Delgado an early shower and gave Canada a player advantage for the final 33 minutes of the game.

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With extra room to maneuver, Canada began creating chances and eventually broke through in the 68th minute. Midfielder Quinn sprung substitute Evelyn Viens with a pass through the heart of the Argentina midfield. Viens then combined with Simisola Awujo to get in behind the Argentina defence.

Viens found herself in a race for a through ball with Correa in the penalty area, and it eventually ricochet off defender Aldana Cometti and into the net to give Canada the lead.

Cloe Lacasse then made it 2-0 with her first international goal in the 87th minute. Lacasse, got to a rebound in front after Viens turned in a low cross from Clarissa Larisey, which Correa was able to stop at the near post.

Moments later, Lacasse appeared to have set up a third, sending in a cross to Viens, who headed the ball in past Correa, but the goal was waved off for offside.

Canada will stay in Spain to face Morocco on Monday in the second of the two-game international window.

Canada head coach Bev Priestman and her team will then keep a close watch on the 2023 Women’s World Cup draw to take place in Auckland, New Zealand on Oct. 22, to see who Canada will face in the group stage.

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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