Three takeaways from Canada-England

England broke Canadian hearts when the Lionesses prevailed, 2-1, before a record Canadian soccer crowd of 54,027 at Vancouver's B.C. Place. The win sends England to the semifinals for the first time against Japan on Wednesday. Here are three takeaways.

1. The pressure on the hosts was greater than their talent.

After Canada exited, longtime star Christine Sinclair said, "I'm sorry." To which her coach, John Herdman, said, "Christine Sinclair can’t say sorry." No, she had no reason to say she's sorry -- her goal late in the first half was the 155th of her international career -- but she certainly felt like she had let down her country.

The one constant of the Canadians' Women's World Cup campaign was the stress. They entered the tournament as the weakest of the six seeds but never looked up to the occasion. Sinclair's goal was only the fourth of the tournament for Canada.

That inefficiency was eventually going to catch up with the hosts, and it did on Saturday. Lauren Sesselmann, who had struggled all tournament on the backline, coughed up the ball, allowing Jodie Taylor to break free and score the opening goal after 11 minutes. Three minutes later, former University of North Carolina star Lucy Bronze was allowed a free header that found the underside of the crossbar for a 2-0 England lead.

As bad as Canada's start was, it could have been worse. It could have been Brazil-Germany a year ago in the men's World Cup semifinals -- 5-0 for Germany over the hosts after only 29 minutes. To its credit, Canada got back in the game on Sinclair's goal but simply did not have the talent to beat England.

2. England makes history with first semifinal berth.

England's 2-1 win over Norway was its first win in the knockout stage of the Women's World Cup, Saturday's victory moved the Lionesses into the semifinals of the first time.

“We are history-makers again," said England coach Mark Sampson. "We are only the third England team to reach a [World Cup] semifinal. We now join that [men's] 1966 and 1990 crowd. I’m very, very proud of the whole team.”

The win was England's fourth straight after an opening 1-0 loss to France in their opener.

“Against France," said Sampson, "we were right in the game until the last minute. Against Mexico and Colombia, we played well and dominated. And the last two games have been about grinding out results and staying in the tournament."

3. Taylor's long journey finally pays off.

Taylor, who scored the game-winning goal, was making her first World Cup start nine weeks after knee surgery. She plays with Sinclair on the NWSL's Portland Thorns and joins U.S. star Alex Morgan, another Thorns teammate, in the semifinals.

Taylor, 29, has toiled in the shadows for many years and only made her international debut for England in August 2014 after leading the NWSL's Washington Spirit with 11 goals. Like Bronze and starting keeper, American-born Karen Bardsley, she is a product of the U.S. collegiate system (Oregon State) and has bounced around U.S. and Canadian clubs in the W-League as well as clubs in England, Australia and Sweden. Following the 2014 season, she was traded by the Spirit to Portland, the 11th club of her career.

"Making history with England has been my goal for four or five years," she said.

TRIVIA. The USA won the Women's World Cup in 1999 and reached the semifinals in 2003. Canada's loss meant that no other host country has advanced past the quarterfinals. Indeed, Canada, which edged Switzerland, 1-0, in the round of 16, is the only other host team besides the USA to win a game in the knockout stage.

June 27 in Vancouver
England 2 Canada 1.
Goal: Taylor 11, Bronze 14; Sinclair 42.
England -- Bardsley (Chamberlain, 52); Bronze, Houghton, Bassett, Rafferty; Moore, Williams (White, 79), J.Scott, K.Chapman; Taylor, Carney (Stoney, 90+).
Canada -- McLeod; Buchanan, Sesselmann, A.Chapman; Wilkinson (Matheson, 62), Schmidt, D.Scott (Kyle, 77), Lawrence; Belanger, Sinclair, Tancredi (Leon, 71).
Referee: Claudia Umpierrez (Uruguay).
Att.: 54,027.
1 comment about "Three takeaways from Canada-England".
  1. Bruce Moorhead, June 29, 2015 at 2:34 p.m.

    Correction: Lucy Bronze scored the game-winner, not Taylor. I have to say that although Sesselmann gave away the ball, Jodie Taylor still had a lot to do, and took her chance well. I did expect that England would be a bridge too far for the attack-challenged Canada side. It is now four straight 2-1 victories for England.

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