Canada defeats Scotland at Algarve Cup as Sinclair nets 179th goal

Christine Sinclair’s penalty kick was the difference as Canada beat Scotland 1-0 at the Algarve Cup on Friday. (Courtesy Canada Soccer)

LAGOS, Portugal — Captain Christine Sinclair rescued Canada with an 81st-minute penalty in a 1-0 win over Scotland at the Algarve Cup on Friday.

It was her 179th career international goal, moving Sinclair within five of tying retired American Abby Wambach’s world record of 184.

The fifth-ranked Canadians tied No. 22 Iceland 0-0 on Wednesday at the women’s soccer tournament. And it looked like another scoreless draw Friday against the 20th-ranked Scots until Chloe Arthur took down Canadian Ashley Lawrence as she dribbled her way into the penalty box.

Sinclair, a 35-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., playing her 277th international, stepped up to the spot and calmly slotted the ball past a diving Lee Alexander for the win at the Estadio Municipal de Lagos.

"I saw the ‘keeper move early and had half the net to shoot at — and hopefully I won’t miss that," said Sinclair. "What gives me confidence is knowing that I’m prepared. I practise penalty shots at the end of every training session, so in the moment you know you’ve done everything you can to be ready."

Both teams had trouble in the final third of the pitch with the Scots, despite good possession, having difficulties getting there.

"As the game wore on, having that goal was so important for us, and we found a way," said Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moiller.

Canada, which improved to 7-1-0 all-time against Scotland with its sixth straight win, will play a ranking match next Wednesday.

Heiner-Moller made four changes to the team that tied Iceland. Veteran Erin McLeod started in goal with Allysha Chapman, Shelina Zadorsky and Jordyn Huitema slotting into the starting 11.

It was a cagey opening with Scotland having possession but unable to penetrate the Canadian defence.

Scotland’s best early chance came in the 19th minute when McLeod rushed out to beat a Scottish attacker to the ball. She got her body in the way, but the ball deflected back to another Scottish player farther away from goal.

As McLeod raced back into position, Erin Cuthbert chipped the ball towards goal but it was headed away by Kadeisha Buchanan.

Canada came on as the half progressed, with players pressing to frustrate Scottish attempts to build an attack.

Alexander made a fine leg save to deny Huitema in the 29th minute after a Sinclair pass found her alone following a Scottish giveaway. The play was called offside, in any event.

Huitema’s weak shot was saved by Alexander after a Sinclair cross caused some havoc in the Scottish penalty box in the 31st minute. Sinclair was put in alone in the 35th minute but, pressured from the side by Scottish captain Rachel Corsie, her shot went high.

Alexander was up to the task late in the half, palming away a Buchanan shot off a corner.

Canada outshot Scotland 6-4 (1-1 in shots on target) in the first half. Scotland had 54 per cent possession.

Alexander beat substitute Adriana Leon to the ball in the 69th minute after a deft chip from Sinclair.

Scotland and Canada are headed to the World Cup this summer. Other Algarve Cup participants who will play in the June 7-July 7 tournament in France are the seventh-ranked Netherlands, No. 9 Sweden, No. 12 Spain, No. 13 Norway and No. 15 China.

The rest of the Algarve Cup field includes No. 17 Denmark, No. 18 Switzerland, No. 22 Iceland, host Portugal (No. 32) and No. 34 Poland.

Canada has been drawn with the Netherlands, No. 46 Cameroon and No. 19 New Zealand at the World Cup.

Canada finished fifth at the 2018 Algarve Cup after beating Japan 2-0 in its final match. Canada, second to Sweden in Group B with a 2-1-0 record, was consigned to the fifth-place game after finishing as the second-best runner-up behind Portugal (2-0-1).

The championship game between Sweden and the Netherlands was cancelled due to heavy rain. Both teams were awarded first place.

Canada won the tournament in 2016 and was runner-up in 2017.

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