Great Britain Vs Canada
Great Britain 0 Canada 2
Great Britain 0 Canada 2
The script was written, GB were all set for a semi-final showdown against tournament favourites USA - all they needed to do was secure a comfortable result against underdogs Canada to progress.
But Canada made it clear from the start of this match that they were not in the mood to play a supporting role to Team GB in front of a vociferous crowd plastered in red, white and blue.
It took just six minutes for Canada to create their first chance of the match, albeit somewhat controversially. Tournament top-scorer Melissa Tancredi appeared to wrestle GB skipper Casey Stoney to the ground before laying the ball off to Jonelle Filigno who had her strike well held by GB keeper Karen Bardsley.
Six minutes later the chants of “GB, GB” were silenced as if the entire crowd had become the victims of mass strangulation. Canada’s Sophie Schmidt whipped in a corner to the near-post where Filigno was lurking to smash a right-footed half-volley into the net from 12 yards.
Team GB pushed for an immediate equaliser and some good build up play between Eniola Aluko and then Alex Scott allowed Jill Scott to drill an effort from the centre 25-yards out – only to see the scrambling Erin McLeod gather the ball at her right-hand post.
A penalty appeal followed for Britain in the 18th minute when Kim Little was upended in the area, but it appeared the stretching Canadian defender had got enough of the ball for the Japanese referee to wave play on.
Again the home nation pushed in the 23rd minute when a fabulous cross from Alex Scott on the right was met by the head of Karen Carney at the back post – but she couldn’t direct the ball towards goal and it sailed wide of the post.
The crowd were soon again in good voice but the wall of noise which greeted every GB attack was soon silenced once more as Canada extended their lead in the 25th minute.
Kim Little was robbed in the middle of the park by Desiree Scott before bringing down the Canadian 25 yards out in the centre. The prolific Canadian skipper Christine Sinclair stepped up to take the set piece and curled a fabulous effort into the bottom right-hand corner leaving Bardsley with little chance.
As the teams entered the second half Team GB lined up in a notably more attacking shape – but it was Canada who had the first effort of the half. Tancredi found herself in possession on the right 54 minutes in and managed to squirm into the box before firing a low effort at the near post but Bardsley gathered well.
A period of GB domination followed as the home nation pressed for the goal they so desperately needed to get themselves back into the game.
Carney was full of life on the right and she twisted and turned in the 67th minute to find her way into the box before crossing neatly for Jill Scott. But she failed to get the power or direction into her header needed to trouble McLeod.
Four minutes later another chance came Britain’s way as substitute Fara Williams played a long high ball into the box for the 5ft 11in Jill Scott to head – but again the midfielder failed to get the required power into the effort and it was easily gathered by McLeod.
As the players entered the final ten minutes GB appeared to have been handed the lifeline they so badly needed as Aluko was clearly brought down in the box by Rhian Wilkinson. But the apparently obvious penalty decision was not so obvious to the referee who waved away the GB protests and with them their chances of progression to the semi-finals.
GB had one last push in the 89th minute when a goal mouth scramble ended with the ball in McLeod’s arms.
The fairytale ending did not come to pass for Team GB and as the final whistle blew the Canadians celebrated wildly while the Brits fell to their knees – the mood of GB best summed up by scenes of player of the tournament Stephanie Houghton leaving the field with tears rolling down her face as the team’s Olympic adventure came to a premature end.