FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hosts Canada battled out a scoreless stalemate in a tough encounter against New Zealand at the Commonwealth Stadium.
The match, which included a 30-minute first-half stoppage as lightning lurked around Edmonton, was a torrid and physical contest from start to finish. There was a litany of near-misses at either end with both teams hitting the frame of the goal, including a missed penalty from New Zealand’s Amber Hearn.
Following the early half-hour delay, New Zealand had the first sight of goal with Hearn directing a perfect looping header from distance only to see it tipped over by the reliable Erin McLeod. Canada’s best chance of the half came midway through with Christine Sinclair charging down on goal only to be denied by one of many superb Erin Nayler blocks.
New Zealand should have taken the lead just past the half-hour mark but Football Ferns’ all-time top scorer Hearn hit her penalty against the crossbar after Hannah Wilkinson was brought down. Canada’s Melissa Tancredi deflected the ball into the net in the final minute of the half only to be denied by the offside flag.
After the break Sinclair directed a clever opportunistic volley towards goal only to see a brilliant finger-tip save from Erin Nayler direct the ball onto the crossbar. Then it was the turn of Sophie Schmidt to ping the crossbar with her free-kick from near the sideline.
Tancredi missed a golden opportunity with only the keeper to beat as her underhit shot was again saved by Nayler. The 35,544 crowd found their full voice in the later stages as the home team turned up the heat but star forward Sinclair squeezed a first time shot agonisingly wide of the post, and it was clearly not meant to be Canada’s night.