On the verge of victory

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:10 PM ET

HANGZHOU, China -- It looked like Canada was about to win the first game of the FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time.

"Then we ran out of gas," said coach Even Pellerud.

With Pellerud sitting in the stands serving a suspension, Canada scored two first half goals -- one of which actually counted -- and were out-classing the classy fourth ranked team in the world.

Norway, the team Pellerud coached to the 1995 World Cup title, ended up scoring a late goal to beat the team he now coaches 2-1 here last night as Group C play opened at the event in this Chinese tourist destination.

At least it wasn't 7-0 or 7-1.

Those were the scores Norway, then coached by Pellerud, beat Canada in their two previous meetings at the event back in 1995 and 1999.

"A lot of good things happened in the first half. We did the job. We were very, very disciplined and played very smart," said Pellerud.

Canadace Chapman, who missed the World Cup four years ago due to an injury, gave Canada a leg up a minute after Melissa Tancredi's disallowed goal.

Christine Sinclair found herself in the box with three Norwegian defenders all over her. The ball squirted to Chapman who left footed it home for a 1-0 Canadian lead.

The two teams looked like they switched shirts at the half.

Ragnhild Gulbrandsen tied it up in the 52nd minute and captain Ane Strangleland Horpestad scored the winner in the 82nd minute.

In the end Pellerud gave credit to the Norwegians for a tactical move to play their fullback higher in the second half combined with effect of the humidity here.

"It was disappointing to lose a game that late. I think Norway was one goal better, all in all, over the two halves," he said of the team Canada has never beaten in nine meetings over the years.

A crowd of 30,752, an exceptional gathering going up against China's World Cup opening game from Wuhan live on national television, watched the opening action in Group C here. Australia scored a 4-1 win over Ghana in the other game.

Canada plays Ghana here Saturday while Norway goes against Australia.

The Matildas won their first ever FIFA Women's World Cup game here last night, 4-1 over the Black Queens, the No. 2 team out of Africa.

"We're in the same situation as we were last year. We have to win both games," said Pellerud of not messing up against Ghana and then defeating Australia in Chengju next Wednesday.

Last year Canada bounced back from a 4-1 loss to eventual champion Germany and made it all the way to the medal round after having failed to win a single game in their previous two World Cup appearances.


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