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SCOREBOARD

Canada rallies to beat Brazil in penalties at SheBelieves Cup

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ATLANTA — Canada recovered from a poor first half Saturday, defeating Brazil 4-2 in a penalty shootout at the SheBelieves Cup to earn a date with the U.S. in Tuesday's final.

The 10th-ranked Brazilians pressed hard and had the upper hand for most of a match that did not see the best of No. 9 Canada until late in the game with centre back Vanessa Gilles scoring to tie the contest at 1-1 in the 77th minute.

Canada coach Bev Priestman liked the response from her team if not all of the performance.

"It wasn't the perfect game but I'm really happy with the mindset of the group to pull through and do whatever it takes win," she said.

It was a second straight shootout for the Canadians, who lost the CONCACAF W Gold Cup semifinal 3-1 to the U.S. on March 6 in a shootout after extra time finished tied at 2-2.

There was no extra time this time. And Unlike the W Gold Cup, Canada was on target with the exception of Ashley Lawrence who shot high to open the shootout.

Adriana Leon, Jade Rose, Simi Awujo and Julia Grosso scored from the penalty spot with Grosso slotting home the winning spot kick, as she did in the final of the Tokyo Olympics.

Cristiane and Tarciane scored in the shootout for Brazil, which brought on 'keeper Lorena in second-half stoppage time, replacing Tai Borges for the shootout. Kailen Sheridan stopped Marta while Antonia shot wide.

"(Sheridan) can makes saves I've not seen other goalkeepers do," said Priestman, who cited the "bravery" of 20-year-old Awujo and 21-year-old Rose to step up in the shootout.

Brazil led 1-0 at the half and should probably have had a bigger lead after coming out with intent at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Brazilian pressure translated into a string of Canadian turnovers, with the Brazilians quick to launch a counter-attack.

Brazil went ahead when American referee Tori Penso pointed to the penalty spot after Rose took a Brazilian down. Tarciane, a 20-year-old centre back, stepped up and hammered a shot up the middle that beat Sheridan in the 22nd minute.

The Canadians offered more in the final quarter of the game and pulled even in the 77th minute on a Gilles header off a Jessie Fleming free kick. It was her fourth goal for Canada.

Brazil will face No. 7 Japan in the third-place match Tuesday.

Priestman said the Canadians had to tweak their tactics at halftime, bringing in an extra midfielder to try and slow down the South Americans.

"We had to adapt. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't perfect," said Priestman.

"We needed this," she added. "I said in the (post-game) huddle 'What's hard for us is good for us.'"

In the earlier game at the same venue, the fourth-ranked Americans recovered from conceding a goal in the first minute to beat Japan 2-1 on a 77th-minute Lindsay Horan penalty before 50,644, the largest-ever crowd for a U.S women's friendly on home soil.

Jaedyn Shaw, a 19-year-old midfielder/forward, tied it 1-1 with a long-distance strike in the 21st, becoming the first U.S. woman to score in her first five career starts.

Shaw now has seven goals in 11 appearances. Christen Press is the only U.S. woman with more goals through 11 games (eight).

While Priestman had veterans Janine Beckie and Desiree Scott back in the fold from lengthy absences, her injury list grew ahead of kickoff.

Goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx was the latest to drop out of the squad, following Quinn (who goes by one name) and Olivia Smith who were sidelined on the eve of the tournament by a concussion and a knee knock, respectively.

Sydney Collins, Nichelle Prince and Jayde Riviere were ruled out earlier due to injury.

Despite the injuries, the Canadian starting 11 went into the match with a combined 920 caps. Some 615 of those came from Kadeisha Buchanan, Lawrence, Leon, Fleming and Beckie.

Both Beckie and Scott have joined Canada at recent camps, not seeing action but continuing their "return to play" protocols.

Beckie won cap No. 102 in her first start for Canada since Feb. 22, 2023, in a 3-0 loss to Japan at last year's SheBelieves Cup.

The 29-year-old Beckie, who came in with 36 goals in 101 appearances for Canada, underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee after going down in a Portland Thorns pre-season game in March 2023.

The 36-year-old Scott, who has 185 caps, did not see action Saturday.

Canada came into Saturday's game with an 11-11-9 all-time record against Brazil. The teams last met in a pair of friendlies in October with Brazil winning 1-0 in Montreal and Canada winning 2-0 in Halifax.

Canada opens defence of its Olympic crown in late July in Paris in a group with No. 3 France, No. 23 Colombia and No. 28 New Zealand.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2024