Canada-New Zealand play to Women’s World Cup draw
The match was there for the taking on Thursday night in Edmonton, where Canada and New Zealand played to a scoreless draw at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The draw keeps Canada atop Group A with four points and New Zealand alive in the tournament. The nil-nil affair wasn’t without its chances for both sides, particularly for New Zealand as it squandered a penalty.
Before the missed opportunity for New Zealand, Canada had the right player on a partial breakaway midway through the first half when Christine Sinclair looked nearly through on goal. The New Zealand keeper, Erin Nayler, charged out of her area and got just enough on Sinclair’s shot near the top of the box to keep the Canadians at bay.
Then Canada experienced an anxious moment followed by relief just after the half hour mark when Allysha Chapman fouled Hannah Wilkinson, giving New Zealand a penalty.
Amber Hearn stepped up to take the spot kick, trying to go high and to the left of the keeper. With Erin McLeod guessing to the wrong side, it was the crossbar that came to Canada’s rescue and kept the score level.
At the stroke of halftime, Canada thought it had gone up 1-0 when Melissa Tancredi swung her right foot through a redirected free kick. The ball rested in the back of the net, however the assistant referee’s flag pointed upwards to call Tancredi offside and nullify the finish as the half came to an end.
Two minutes into the restart the ball worked its way around the New Zealand box to the right foot of Sinclair. The Canadian superstar had a go at goal but Nayler got her left hand on the ball, lifting it to the bar above her before the danger was cleared.
New Zealand looked the better of the two sides for much of the second half, while Canada received important defensive contribution from Kadeisha Buchanan and Josee Belanger while the visitors charged for a goal.
At the 76th minute Canada had a clear chance at goal when the ball found Tancredi virtually alone on the right side of the keeper. The Canadian shot the ball as she was slipping, her attempt easily blocked by Nayler.
Five minutes from regulation, Belanger marched up the right side as she often does and sent an inviting ball to the middle of the area where a charging Sinclar made contact with her right foot, her redirection though left much to be desired as it trickled wide of the near post.
With the draw Canada is at four points from two matches, leading Group A. New Zealand picked up its first point from two matches on the night. Both teams play again on June 15, Canada facing Netherlands in Montreal while China and New Zealand go at it in Winnipeg. Canada leads the group heading into the final matches, while China and Netherlands are a point behind with three each.