TORONTO — Marta scored twice as Brazil beat a disappointing Canada 2-0 on Saturday in an international women's soccer friendly.
It was Canada's first game on home soil since last summer's World Cup. And as homecomings go, it was decidedly shaky — admittedly against quality opposition — despite an enthusiastic crowd of 28,604 on a sunny afternoon at BMO Field.
The score did not do the game justice with Canada fortunate to lose by just two, although the Brazilians made it interesting late with some loose passages of play. Still the crowd willed the Canadian women on as the clock wound down, cheering every attack whether it was warranted or not.
The two teams meet again Tuesday in Ottawa, with Canadian coach John Herdman no doubt looking for a smoother stop on the road to Rio.
Canada, ranked 10th in the world compared to No. 8 for Brazil, trailed 2-0 at the half, looked uncertain on defence and clumsy on offence Saturday. The poised Brazilians, meanwhile, defended well and showed flair and skill in cutting open the Canadians, who saw their four-game winning streak snapped.
In the buildup to the match, Canadian captain Christine Sinclair called Marta "still the one player in the women's game that can almost single-handedly win a game for her country." The 30-year-old forward lived up to that billing, taking advantage of Canadian errors.
Canada had a wobbly start with several giveaways. And a defensive meltdown led to a Brazil goal in the 11th minute.
Centre back Kadeisha Buchanan went down in the sideline trying to break up a play, allowing Beatriz to race down the flank. Allysha Chapman misplayed the ball, which bounced to Marta who took full advantage from close range.
Chapman had an opportunity in the 20th minute to make amends when Sophie Schmidt found her in the penalty box with a nice through ball. But the Canadian fullback was bodied off the ball by a Brazilian defender.
Brazil had a chance in the 37th minute but Thaisa shot high with the goal unprotected after Canada failed to clear the ball.
Marta made it 2-0 with a long-range shot in the 41st after Janine Beckie was dispossessed in midfield. Buchanan gave Marta too much room and the Brazilian star used it to hammer a left-footed shot past Stephanie Labbe from outside the penalty box.
Canada brought on Josee Belanger and Jessie Fleming to replace Chapman and Desiree Scott at the half.
The Canadians showed signs of life early in the second half with Sinclair threatening off a pair of corners. But the Brazilian defence was in charge most of the afternoon.
Beatriz almost made it 3-0 on a dazzling run in the 53rd minute, dribbling through the Canadian defence only to be stopped by a fine save by Labbe. And Raquel shot wide in the 68th after Schmidt was swarmed by several Brazilians and robbed off the ball.
Sinclair, who has been nursing a leg injury in recent months, gave way to Melissa Tancredi in the 74th minute. Marta exited two minutes later.
Brazilian 'keeper Barbara made a fine save off Beckie in the 78th minute, just seconds after a Brazilian goal was whistled off for offside.
Canada's starting 11 came into the game 863 caps between them. Sinclair, Scott, Schmidt and Diana Matheson accounted for 677 of those.
Canada wraps up its pre-Olympic schedule with a game July 23 against No. 3 France in Auxerre. The Canadians will play a closed-door game against No. 12 China while in France.
Canada's all-time record against Brazil drops to 5-7-6. The Canadians had won their last meeting, 2-1 in the Algarve Cup final in March in Portugal, ending a four-game winless streak (0-3-1) against the South Americans.
The Canadian women have played 15 games since exiting the World Cup at the quarter-final stage, compiling a 10-5-0 record.
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