Sydney FC have claimed victory in one of the longest games in A-League Men history, downing Perth Glory in a 3-2 win that took…
The Matildas’ hopes of finishing at the summit of Group B have suffered a blow after Canada came from behind to defeat Ireland 2-1 in Perth.
Canada now lead the group on four points, one ahead of Australia.
However, with the Matildas taking on Nigeria at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday evening a victory will leave them on six points, putting Tony Gustavsson’s side in the driver’s seat to top Group B and qualify for a Round of 16 clash with likely either England or Denmark at Stadium Australia.
Canada, the Olympic champions who were tipped to comfortably qualify for the knockout stage if not finish atop the standings, will face the Matildas in Melbourne on Monday in a clash that could decide the final standings.
Ireland’s appearance at this Women’s World Cup is their first at either a World Cup or European Championship, with Katie McCabe’s Olimpico goal an incredible way to score their opening goal of a major tournament.
However, the Irish side have been eliminated from the tournament with their second straight defeat consigning Vera Pauw’s team to an early flight home.
Kailen Sheridan was busy early in the Canadian goal, denying Kyra Carusa from point-blank range after a quick move down Ireland’s right side.
From the resulting corner Ireland made a dream start, with McCabe opening her side’s account with a brilliant Olimpico past Sheridan.
There was bedlam among the Irish fans as McCabe’s teammates mobbed their captain after the historic strike.
With Beverly Priestman’s side still shell-shocked McCabe dribbled into the penalty area and went down but there was no hint of contact.
The seventh-ranked Canada side were looking nothing like their Tokyo gold medal-winning selves, struggling to even string simple passes together as Ireland pressed their advantage with multiple corners.
Jordyn Huitema had Canada’s best chance of the early stages after a cheap turnover but could only send her strike directly at Courtney Brosnan.
Canada almost had the opener when a stretching Venssa Gilles failed to control her effort as it sailed harmlessly over Sheridan’s crossbar.
Five minutes of added time were added to the first half as HBF Park copped an almighty drenching.
Just as Ireland looked certain to hold out for the first 45 minutes, a teasing delivery into the area was inadvertently turned into her own net by Megan Connolly.
It was perhaps harsh on Ireland but probably no less than Canada deserved after a much better showing since McCabe’s stunning opening goal.
Priestman went to her bench for a triple substitution, with experienced trio Christine Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt and Shelina Zadorsky entering the fray.
Brosnan was forced into an excellent save from Huitema’s powerful drive as Canada looked for the go-ahead goal.
Pressure was building and not long after Adriana Leon poked home to give Canada the lead for the first time.
Sinclair was in the hunt to become the first player to score at six World Cups, providing energy off the bench with Canada looking likely to put the result beyond doubt.
After their very encouraging start Ireland now looked bereft of ideas in attack and unable to match Canada’s level.
McCabe forced a corner after a mazy run into the penalty area but Ireland could not capitalise.
It would finish 2-1, Canada completing the come-from-behind victory and taking a step towards round of 16 qualification, while defeat at HBF Park condemns Ireland to early elimination from Group B in their debut FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance.