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Canada wins Olympic gold over Sweden on Julia Grosso penalty in women's soccer final

A journey over a decade in the making concluded with an Olympic gold medal for the Canadian women’s national soccer team.

Canada defeated Sweden 2-1 in a penalty shootout in the women’s soccer final at the International Stadium in Yokohama on Friday.

Substitute Julia Grosso scored the decisive goal in the shootout to give Canada the gold medal.

Jessie Fleming and Deanne Rose also scored for Canada in the shootout, while goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe turned aside two Sweden shooters, and two others missed.

Fleming scored for Canada in regulation to tie the game in the second half after Stina Blackstenius had given Sweden the lead in the first half.

Canada went into the tournament with two bronze medals from the previous two Olympics and now have gold to add to its collection. Sweden had to settle for silver for the second consecutive Olympics.

Canada went into the tournament with two bronze medals from the previous two Olympics and now have gold to add to its collection. Sweden had to settle for silver for the second consecutive Olympics.

It was a gritty performance from Canada, who looked nervous from the opening kickoff and had trouble playing the ball out of the back against Sweden pressure. Too often Canada gave the ball away, allowing Sweden an opportunity to attack on a short field.

Sweden’s first good chance came 10 minutes into the game when the ball fell to Magdalena Eriksson at the corner of the penalty area and her shot flashed across the face of the net.

It proved to be a warning shot for Sweden, who lost to Germany in the gold-medal game five years ago in Rio.

Just over 15 minutes into the game, Labbe had to make her first good save, getting in front of a stinging shot from Fridolina Rolfo.

Canada’s best chance of the half came in the 21st minute when Nichelle Prince whipped a ball into the penalty area, which skipped past Janine Beckie at the far post. The ball seemed to surprise Beckie, who did not reach a foot out to turn the cross into the net.

Beckie struggled to find her game in the first half and frustration boiled over when she chopped down an opponent from behind and was issued a yellow card.

Canada kept giving the ball away in midfield, continuing to provide Sweden chances to attack.

Labbe made another excellent save at the half hour mark, getting a hand on header from Sofia Jakobsson heading towards the top corner.

Sweden took the lead in the 34th minute, capitalizing on a turnover in midfielder by Quinn. Sweden took the ball the other way where Kosovare Asllani crossed the ball into the box, finding Blackstenius at the other end.

Blackstenius was able to get a shot off, which went through the legs of defender Vanessa Gilles and in past Labbe to give Sweden a 1-0 lead.

Canada made two changes to start the second half, replacing Beckie with Adriana Leon and Quinn with Grosso. The moves worked out early as Canada started the half on the front foot and Grosso had an early chance, hammering a shot from long distance over the net.

In the 64th minute, Sinclair was taken down by Sweden defender Amanda Ilestedt in the penalty area. Play was waved on initially by Russian referee Anastasia Pustovoitova, but upon video review a penalty was awarded.

Fleming stepped up and scored into the bottom left corner of the net, the opposite of her penalty conversion against the United States in the semifinal.

With the game tied 1-1, Canada started to take the game to Sweden.

Ashley Lawrence had a chance after Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl knocked her initial cross away. The ball came back to Lawrence who fired at the net, but the ball was blocked by a defender on the goal line.

Fleming came inches from giving Canada the lead seconds later, as the ball was laid off to her at the top of the box, but fire her shot just high.

Sweden had a chance to win it late when the ball fell to Asllani in the area, but her shot was cleared off the goal line by Kadeisha Buchanan.

Seconds from the end of regulation, Fleming took one last shot from distance, which just sailed over the net.

With the teams tied, the game went into a 30-minute extra time session.

Grosso had the best chance in the first half of extra time, testing Hedvig for just outside the penalty area, but the Sweden goalkeeper was able to make the save and hold on to the ball.

With 10 minutes left in extra time, Sweden midfielder Lina Hurtig got to a corner kick and powered a header just wide, which proved to be Sweden’s best chance to take the lead.

Moments later at the other end, Jordyn Huitema, who replaced Sinclair just prior to extra time, got to the end of a cross from Rose, but her header was just wide.

Canada were holding on late in extra time as Sweden pushed for the go-ahead goal. It nearly came on a scramble in front with two minutes left, but somehow Canada were able to scramble the ball off the goal line.

Canada took the early advantage in the shootout when Asllani hit the goalpost with Sweden’s first shot and Fleming scored with hers; putting the ball in the same spot as her second-half penalty.

The pendulum swung in Sweden’s favour, however when Nathalie Bjorn and Olivia Schough scored for Sweden, while Ashley Lawrence was stopped by Lindahl, Gilles hit the crossbar, and then Leon was stopped.

Caroline Seger stepped up with a chance to win the game for Sweden, but fired her shot over the net. Rose then tied the shootout 2-2 scoring on her shot.

Labbe then stopped Jonna Andersson and Grosso stepped up to muscle the ball past Lindahl to give Canada the win and the gold medal.


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