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Canada's Women's Soccer Team Falls To Germany At Rio Olympics

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BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Canada's bid to rise up the Olympic soccer medal podium was derailed by Germany in a 2-0 semifinal loss Tuesday, leaving John Herdman's team to go after bronze for the second Games in a row.

Goals by Melanie Behringer and Sara Daebritz on either side of halftime dashed Canadian dreams of going for gold as the second-ranked Germans efficiently ended the Canadians' four-game win streak at the tournament. Down 2-0 after 59 minutes, Canada came on in waves but was unable to make ground before a sparse crowd at Mineirao Stadium.

Once the final whistle blew, tearful Canadian players were left to console each other on the field.

Herdman apologized to Canada for missing the opportunity to go for gold. But he praised his players.

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Players show their dejection after losing to Germany at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Aug. 16. (Photo: Gustavo Andrade/AFP/Getty Images)

"The team gave it its best, absolutely. I can't fault the players. Germany took their chances and we didn't."

Said midfielder Jessie Fleming:

"We didn't put away what we had. And Germany did. They always do."

The Germans defended in numbers, with goalkeeper Almuth Schult a formidable barrier, and then looked to counter-attack or just hammer the ball downfield.

The 10th-ranked Canadian women will rue the opening goal in the 21st minute, a needless penalty conceded on a Kadeisha Buchanan sliding tackle. But Buchanan, who plays a take-no-prisoners kind of game, had to cover a lot of ground just to get to the German as the Canadian defence was caught short.

"We didn't put away what we had. And Germany did. They always do."

The Germans will play No. 6 Sweden in Friday's final at the storied Maracana in Rio. The Swedes defeated No. 8 Brazil 4-3 on penalties after the game ended 0-0 following extra time. Germany has a chance at an Olympic soccer double with the men facing Nigeria in Wednesday's semifinal.

Canada, which finished third four years ago in London after losing to the U.S. in the semifinals, will face the Olympic hosts earlier Friday in Sao Paulo for bronze. The two teams know each other well, splitting a two-game exhibition series in Canada prior to the Games.

Herdman said captain Christine Sinclair told her fellow players in the post-game huddle on the field that they're not going to go home empty-handed.

"It feels like crap right now," Fleming said. "I wanted to win a gold medal. But we're going to win bronze ? It sucks."

Canada had made history earlier in the tournament by defeating Germany for the first time after 12 consecutive losses. But the Germans restored normal service Tuesday, defending resolutely while probing the Canadian backline for holes.

"I wanted to win a gold medal. But we're going to win bronze? It sucks."

Fullback Allysha Chapman, whose shoulder popped out in Friday's quarter-final win over France, was not deemed sufficiently recovered to start. Veteran Rhian Wilkinson, earning her 180th cap, replaced her with Ashley Lawrence on the other side. Josee Belanger, the fourth fullback on the roster, was suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

Germany took advantage of Chapman's absence, making inroads down the right side of the Canadian defence.

Canadian coach Herdman elected to start veteran striker Melissa Tancredi, with Diana Matheson on the bench. Tancredi striker scored both goals in Canada's 2-1 preliminary-round win over the Germans.

Canada had the first good chance in the 12th minute when a Fleming long ball went over the German defence to an onrushing Lawrence. Her cross found Janine Beckie, who headed just wide.

Canada took its time playing the ball out of its end and then looked to unlock the German defence with long balls.

The Germans went ahead in the 21st minute on Behringer's penalty after Buchanan took down Alexandra Popp with a sliding tackle. A Canadian turnover up-field led to the attack and Canada was caught short on the right.

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Canada's women's soccer team lost to Germany at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Aug. 16. (Photo: Gustavo Andrade/AFP/Getty Images)

It was a clumsy challenge off to the side of the penalty box by Buchanan, who had left two Germans writhing in pain earlier in the game. The Canadian centre back was carded on the play — her fourth yellow in four games — by North Korean referee Hyanh Ok Ri.

Behringer, who also converted a penalty in the preliminary-round game against Canada, hammered the ensuing penalty past Stephanie Labbe for her fifth goal of the tournament

Lawrence let a shot go from distance in the 34th but it was easily handled by Schult.

The Canadians began to make some progress up the pitch as the half wound down and Germany needed a goal-line clearance from Tabea Kemme off a Buchanan header from a corner in the final minute.

Labbe stopped a hard shot by Daebritz chance early in the second half when the Canadian defence was opened up. Germany came close again on a header just wide from a free kick

Beckie had a glorious opportunity in the 57th minute but shot just wide on a nice feed from Tancredi. Then Schult had to punch the ball away before an onrushing Beckie got to it.

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Kadeisha Buchanan of Canada shows her emotion after losing to Germany. (Photo: Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)

Seconds later, Germany scored as Daebritz beat Labbe with a low shot in the 59th minute. Herdman promptly inserted Matheson for Wilkinson.

Canada kept coming with Tancredi earning the ire of the Germans by bowling over Schult at one point. The German 'keeper then made a marvellous, one-handed save to deny Sinclair in the 67th minute.

Canada had 61 per cent of the possession and outshot Germany 11-9 (4-3 in shots on target). It had a 7-3 edge in corners.

Canada went to a back three, with Sophie Schmidt dropping back, to throw more bodies up field. Labbe even came up as an extra attacker on a corner in the final minute of regulation time.

British bookmaker Ladbrokes had Canada at 13/5 to win, meaning a $100 bet would return $360. Germany was favoured at 6/5, with a $100 bet returning $220.

Still Canada came into the game on a high, having already beaten Germany, No. 3 France, No. 5 Australia and No. 93 Zimbabwe.

We've earned every result here and hopefully the other teams are fearing us now."

That 4-0-0 record matched their previous total of Olympic wins. Canada went 4-4-2 mark in its two previous Olympic campaigns.

"We've earned this," Sinclair, the talismanic captain, said prior to the game. "For me it's been, God, since I was 16 and joined the national team. It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of sweat, a lot of sacrifice. I don't think any of us consider it a magic ride. We've earned every result here and hopefully the other teams are fearing us now."

The Mineirao Stadium pitch was spotty, hardly surprising considering it was the ninth game staged at the 51-year-old venue since Aug. 3. But the two-tiered, circular stadium with its grey and white seats still provided a striking backdrop.

There was money as well as national pride at stake. The Canadian Olympic Committee awards bonuses of $20,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze to each athlete.

Canada's only previous trip to a final on the world stage was the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship when Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. after extra time in Edmonton. A 19-year-old Sinclair led the tournament with 10 goals.

"I think we're the best defensive team in the world. (On offence), we catch teams on breaks and set pieces."

Only one Canadian team has ever competed for gold at the Summer Games (Canada won gold in hockey at the 1920 Antwerp Summer Games but let's consider that a Winter Games win). The Canadian men's basketball team lost 19-8 to the U.S. — on an outdoor dirt court during a rainstorm _ to claim silver in Berlin in the first Olympic basketball final.

Sinclair said the Canadian recipe for success has been simple.

"I think we're the best defensive team in the world. (On offence), we catch teams on breaks and set pieces."

But not Tuesday.

The last time the Canadian women won five games in a row was during a six-game streak in early 2015 against lesser opposition — they beat South Korea (twice), China, Mexico, Scotland and Italy — at tournaments in China and Cyprus.

The Olympics marks the swan song for 52-year-old German coach Silvia Neid, who is stepping down after 11 years at the helm. Neid, who won the 2007 World Cup and European titles in 2009 and 2013, is heading up the German Football Association's new women's scouting department. Former German international defender Steffi Jones takes over as coach.

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