Women lose a heartbreaker

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:14 PM ET

CHEGNDU, China -- The Australian coach thought the waltz was over for the Matildas.

When Christine Sinclair scored on a header late in the game, he thought Canada had triumphed.

"To be honest, I thought after that goal the game was over," said Tom Sermanni of what would have been a 2-1 Canadian win over the Australians in the final game of group play at the FIFA Women's World Cup.

"For me it looked like the Australians had given up," said Canadian coach Even Pellerud.

Sinclair herself was starting to think she'd won the game on the goal off a corner kick in the 85th minute.

"We were winning with three minutes left," she said of the injury time added at the end of 90 minutes.

"We were definitely in the driver's seat. They got the ball to a wide open player. She put it in the back of the net," said Sinclair.

That player was Aussie captain Cheryl Salisbury.

Lisa De Vanna had Canadian defenders desperately trying to strip her of the ball in the box as Salisbury raced up from the back.

"We have that play to push me forward," said Salibury. "That could be the first time it actually worked.

"It all just seemed so slow and calm," she said of booting it past Taryn Swiatek, who came in to the game in the 79th minute to replaced injured fellow Calgarian Erin McLeod in goal.

"It was an awesome feeling," she said of hearing the crowd of 29,300 explode.

To Even Pellerud and his Canadian girls, it was an awful feeling.

"It was a very dramatic game between two very even teams that went 93 minutes with four great goals," he said.

"It was a disappointing experience for my whole team."

He didn't point a finger at the defenders who messed up at the end.

"There is always an error when a goal is scored," he said. "There was a chance to clear it."

But overall, the coach had no complaints.

"I was pleased with how we played our last game. It's just very tough to lose a game like that. I would have preferred to lose. It's tough now to face all that when you go out on a late goal. It was one odd ball into the box."

The game was only 32 seconds old when the Canadians scored their fastest goal in World Cup history.

Kara Lang arched a ball to Melissa Tancredi who looped it over the head of Australian keeper Melissa Barbieri.

Tancredi's goal was only two seconds from equalling the tournament record of 30 seconds from 1991.

Sinclair's first World Cup goal, in her first game, was scored in the third minute of what would turn out to be a 4-1 loss to Germany in the 1993 event opener in Columbus, Ohio.

It was Tancredi's first official World Cup goal, although she scored one which was called back for no good reason in Canada's 2-1 loss to Norway to open this tournament.

Not long later, Lang dialed long distance in an attempt to duplicate her Ronaldinho-like goal from the sidelines about 30 yards out at the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championships in Edmonton in 2002.

It hit the crossbar, was collected by Sinclair and fed to Tancredi who put it over the net.

After that it was all Australia and Canadian keeper Erin McLeod of Calgary who made a sensational save off Sarah Walsh off a corner kick after Walsh had just put one off the post. Canada didn't win many balls and were in the end most of the half but held the 1-0 lead.

In the 53rd minute a foul was called on Randee Hermus and Collette McCallum drove the free kick home to tie the game.

"We scored that goal and then stopped playing the way we normally play," said Sermanni.

The Canadians came on.

"I was very pleased with the second half," said Pellerud. "After the scored on the free kick, I thought my team was in full control."

Then Sinclair scored.

If only the story stopped there.


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