Canada 2-1 Ireland: Canadians complete comeback after early McCabe stunner

Hoping to bounce back from a frustrating goalless stalemate with Nigeria, in which Christine Sinclair missed a second-half penalty, Canada manager Bev Priestman made the surprising decision to drop the culprit – despite her being the leading goalscorer in the historical chronicles of Women’s international football. Captain Jessie Fleming took her place in the starting XI.

On the back of a 1-0 defeat by co-hosts Australia in their first-ever match at a Women’s World Cup tournament, the Republic of Ireland were forced into an early change – as Aine O’Gorman replaced Heather Payne on the Girls in Green teamsheet following an unforeseen injury in the warm-up.

CAN: Sheridan, Riviere, Lawrence, Gilles, Buchanan; Quinn, Grosso, Fleming; Viens, Leon, Huitema

IRL: Brosnan, Fahey, Louise Quinn, Connolly; O’Gorman, O’Sullivan, Littlejohn, McCabe; Carusa, Farrelly, Lucy Quinn

Encountering one another for their second head-to-head international after Canada emerged victorious in March 2014, the Republic of Ireland flew out of the traps with revenge on their minds, sensationally taking the lead in only the fourth minute. In the wake of being awarded the 2022/23 WSL Goal of the Season award for her strike against Manchester City, Katie McCabe hit the goalscoring headlines again by using the advantage of the challenging weather conditions in Perth to curl an awe-inspiring ‘olimpico goal’ in the top corner, via the assistance of the post, directly from a corner.

Seeking to turn their early advantage into a second goal, Vera Pauw’s side continued to dominate proceedings in the final third as Canada struggled to get out of second gear at the Perth Rectangular Stadium. However, the 2021 Olympic champions should have been level on the stroke of the half-hour mark in the first half, but Vanessa Gilles could only disappointedly direct her close-range effort over the crossbar.

Nonetheless, Canada were back on level terms, albeit against the run of play, in the fifth minute of added-on time to bring a frustrating conclusion to the first half for the Girls in Green, as Megan Connolly inadvertently turned Julia Grosso’s dangerous-looking delivery into the area past Courtney Brosnan.

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With the match now set up for an intriguing second 45 minutes following Connolly’s own-goal, Bev Priestman rolled the substitutional dice during half time, introducing no less than three fresh faces into the fray, including talismanic attacking asset Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt. However, it was strike-partner Jordyn Huitema who came close to completing the Canucks’ comeback in the 50th minute, only for Brosnan to deny the OL Reign striker with a sublime acrobatic save.

Despite that, the Girls in Green ‘keeper was helpless in preventing Canada from turning the match on its head four minutes later, as Adriana Leon valiantly held off the impending pressure from McCabe to fire Schmidt’s pin-point pass into the area past the advancing Brosnan.

Needing a goal to stand any chance of going into their match against Nigeria on Monday with more than just pride left to play for, Ireland did not let their heads drop, as Niamh Fahey sent an ambitious long-range effort high into the stands behind Kailen Sheridan’s goal.

However, a late equaliser never arrived as victory puts Canada on the brink of qualifying for a hat-trick of appearances in the knockout stage of a Women’s World Cup finals – knowing a win in their final group match against Australia would secure a match-up against the eventual runners-up in Group D. Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland will board the plane out of Australia and New Zealand after their final game in Brisbane, having fallen at the first footballing hurdle of their maiden venture into a WWC tournament.