Honors and celebrations as the Canadian women’s soccer team defeats Nigeria in an exhibition game
The Canadian women’s soccer team celebrated their Olympic championship with a 2-0 victory over Nigeria in a friendly match on Friday.
Jessie Flemming opened the scoring in the 51st minute and Vanessa Gilles extended the home side’s lead with a goal in the 72nd.
Veteran Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé was perfect in the last 45 minutes of her soccer career. She was replaced just after half-time by Kailen Sheridan, who kept a clean sheet.
Canada played in red jerseys with each player’s name and number emblazoned on the back in gold, a nod to the medal the team won at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.
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The Canadians are currently ranked sixth in the world and Nigeria sits 39th.
The two teams will meet again for Game 2 of the BC Celebration Tour stop on Monday in Langford, BC.
Canada took a 2-0 lead in the 72nd minute on a Janine Beckie corner kick.
Sheridan made his biggest save of the night in the 68th minute, diving to send a shot from Oyedupe Payne just wide of the post.
Deanne Rose scored the game’s first goal, sending the ball to Flemming at the top of the penalty area in the 51st minute. Flemming fired a sharp angled shot that went over goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi’s shoulder.
Oluehi was replaced in goal by Nnadozie in the 70th minute after appearing to be struggling with an injury.
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Labbé who is retiring is given a standing ovation
The second half began with an emotional moment when Sheridan replaced Labbé in net.
The elder keeper waved to the standing, cheering crowd – including a whole section of her friends and family – before hugging her replacement on the sidelines.
Tears streamed down Labbé’s face as she hugged head coach Bev Priestman, the rest of the Canadian coaching staff and her teammates on the sidelines.
The 35-year-old from Stony Plain, Alta., announced her retirement in January and has already played her last game with her professional team, Paris-Saint Germain.
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The home side controlled most of the action in the first half, but Labbé was pushed into action in the 28th minute.
Rasheedat Ajibade broke through the Canadian defense and sent a flying rocket from the top of the box, but Labbé dove to make a fingertip save and keep the score 0-0.
Canada had a great chance in the 19th minute when Beckie sent a cross to Sinclair in the box. The captain went for a header and sent a shot into Oluehi’s midsection just outside the penalty area.
Sinclair honored at pre-game ceremony
Sinclair was honored at a pre-match ceremony for breaking the international goalscoring record when she recorded her 185th in January 2019.
The much-delayed celebration saw a video of some of Sinclair’s highlights played on the big screen before the 38-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., and her two nieces took to the grounds where she received an engraving memorial and a standing ovation from the hometown crowd.
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Big cheers filled the stadium as Canada entered the pitch before kick-off. The players, with gold medals wrapped around their necks, cheered and waved to the cheering crowd before being presented with Olympic championship rings.
Friday marked the first time the Canadian and Nigerian women’s teams have faced each other since April 2019, when Canada took a 2-1 decision in a friendly match in Spain.
Canada was playing its first game at BC Place since November 2017 when the women’s team took on the Americans to a 1-1 draw.
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