Janine Beckie made up for a missed penalty shot in emphatic fashion on Saturday, scoring twice to lead Canada’s women’s soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Chile.
The victory all but guarantees the eight-ranked Canadians, who tied host Japan 1-1 in their opener on Wednesday, a berth in the quarter-finals.
They next face Britain in Group E action on Tuesday at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium. Britain beat No. 37 Chile 2-0 in their opener.
Beckie, a striker for Manchester City, scored in the 39th minute at Sapporo Dome, burying a rebound that fell virtually at her feet in the middle of the box, after a cross from Nichelle Prince.
She scored her second less than two minutes into the second half, taking a through ball from Prince, then deking out Chilean ‘keeper Christiane Endler to score on a wide-open net.
Beckie now has five Olympic goals. She scored three at the 2016 Rio Games, where Canada won bronze for the second consecutive Games.
Beckie’s goals made up for some disappointment in the 20th minute, when she clanged a penalty shot off the right post. The penalty was awarded after Christine Sinclair was taken down in the box. The 38-year-old Sinclair, playing in her 301st career game for Canada, hobbled on her ankle after the incident, but appeared OK minutes later.
The Canadians’ two-goal breathing room was short-lived however, as they conceded a penalty shot in the 57th minute.
Karen Araya scored Chile’s first goal of these Games, awarded after Canada’s Shelina Zadorsky was whistled for a foul inside the 18-yard box. Araya launched the ball into the left side of the net, while Canadian ‘keeper Kailen Sheridan dived to the opposite corner.
Chile had a chance to tie it in the 72nd minute when a shot from in close banged off the crossbar.
There were some tense moments when Beckie crumpled to the pitch after a hard tackle in the 73rd. She was down for a couple minutes holding her right leg, but continued to play.
Sheridan, meanwhile, started in net in place of Stephanie Labbe, who suffered a rib joint injury during her heroic performance against Japan. Labbe was injured challenging an attacker inside the penalty area. She was down for several minutes but stayed in the game to stop a Japanese penalty shot. The 24-year-old Sheridan replaced her in the 58th minute.
Canada dominated most of the night and appeared to get on the board before the game was six minute old. Defender Kadeisha Buchanan had a shot ricochet off her and into the net, but the referee waved it off for a hand ball.
The teams were able to avoid the sizzling heat in Japan playing in the indoor stadium in Sapporo, which is about 830 kilometres north of Tokyo.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the game was played in front of no fans. The voices of the coaches and players hollering directions provided the soundtrack.
The Canadian team has 12 members of the teams who won bronze under former coach John Herdman in the previous two Olympics. Canada, under coach Bev Priestman, has boldly stated their goal for Tokyo is to “change the colour” of the medal.
Eight teams will advance from the 12-country round-robin to the knockout stage. The final is set for Aug. 6 at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium.