COVENTRY, England - Winning bronze never felt so good.
Diana Matheson scored in the 92nd minute as Canada’s women’s soccer team beat France 1-0 in the bronze-medal game at the London Olympics on Thursday.
Canada’s women’s soccer team has captured a bronze medal at the London Olympics. Diana Matheson scored in the 92nd minute to beat France 1-0 in the third-place game.
After being forced to play defence for most of the second half, Canada capitalized on a rare opportunity when Matheson’s shot off a deflection beat goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi and stunned the French.
“It feels amazing. It feels unreal, it feels like a dream,” said Matheson.
The bronze is Canada’s first Summer Games medal in a traditional team sport since winning silver in men’s basketball in 1936.
France, which ousted Canada from last year’s Women’s World Cup in a dominating 4-0 performance, controlled play with several quality chances in the second half including shots that hit the crossbar and the post.
But Matheson, a five-foot midfielder from Oakville, Ont., scored to lift Canada onto the podium and give the team something to build on ahead of 2015 when it hosts the Women’s World Cup.
“The veterans have experienced the highs and lows with this team. None of us have experienced anything like this,” captain Christine Sinclair said after the game.
Diana Matheson of Canada (R) is taken on the shoulders of Rhian Wilkinson (7) as Brittany Timko (L) and Christine Sinclair (R) celebrate their winning goal that would lead to the bronze medal against France at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
On Monday, Canada was devastated when they lost 4-3 in the semi-final to the United States, whose winning goal came in the third minute of added time at the end of extra time.
On this occasion, it was the French women who were left stunned and in despair after losing a game they should have won convincingly.
France hit the post, had a shot cleared off the line and enjoyed most of the possesion, but Gaetane Thiney, Camille Abily, Eugenie Le Sommer and Louisa Necib were all guilty of missing chances that looked easier to score.
To their credit, Canada defended well even if the defending was frantic and frenzied at times but with extra time looming, they counter-attacked swiftly and scored after France failed to deal with the break.
Defending champions the United States meet world champions Japan in the gold medal match at Wembley later on Thursday with an Olympic record crowd of over 83,000 expected at the match.
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