Being on the sidelines while a massive game is being decided by penalty kicks is not something Christine Sinclair has experienced often during her storied international career.
That was the very situation the talismanic Canadian captain found herself in on Friday, as her team traded penalties with Sweden in the final of the women’s soccer tournament at the Tokyo Games.
While Sinclair was ecstatic about the end result — Canada outscored Sweden 3-2 in the extra session to capture its first women’s soccer gold medal — she was less enamoured with the process.
Sinclair was substituted in the second half of the gold-medal match, meaning she had to watch kick after nerve-rattling kick from the bench.
“I think it’s the first shootout I’ve not physically been a part of, and it was the worst experience of my life,” she said. “I wish people had a camera on Desiree Scott and I throughout that shootout, because we were absolutely going insane and having heart attacks.”
The penalties were an emotional roller-coaster, with Jessie Fleming putting the Canadians ahead early, only to see the team’s next three shooters miss the mark as Sweden took a 2-1 lead.
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Swedish captain Caroline Seger had a chance to win it but her attempt went over the crossbar, and Deanne Rose, needing to score to extend the shootout, came through with a strong effort into the top corner.
Tied after five kicks, the penalties went to sudden death. Canadian goaltender Stephanie Labbe came up with a big save on Sweden’s Jonna Andersson, then Canada’s Julia Grosso buried the winner.
The gold-medal victory was the second game of the tournament Canada won in penalty kicks. The Canadians beat Brazil 4-3 on PKs in the round of 16, with Labbe stopping Brazil’s final two shooters for another dramatic win.
The gold medal is the latest highlight for Sinclair, who leads all soccer players in international goals with 187. She also led Canada to bronze medals at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
While an Olympic championship would be the perfect cap to her international career, the 38-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., said she’s not ready to make any decisions about her future.
“Right now, I’m like: ‘I want to keep going forever!’ and then the next day I’m like: ‘Or you can just be done at the top.’ So who knows what will happen.”
Protester with rainbow flag banned from World Cup matches
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The protester who ran onto the field during a World Cup match carrying a rainbow flag and wearing a blue Superman T-shirt with messages in support of Ukraine and Iranian women was banned Tuesday from attending any more matches during the tournament in Qatar.
The World Cup organizing committee said in a statement that “the individual involved was released shortly after being removed from the pitch” and that his embassy had been informed.
“As a consequence of his actions, and as is standard practice, his (entry permit) has been canceled and he has been banned from attending future matches at this tournament,” the statement said.
The protester identified himself on social media as Mario Ferri, an Italian who has carried out similar stunts at soccer matches before.
Ferri ran onto the field in the second half of Monday’s match between Portugal and Uruguay carrying the rainbow flag. Security officials chased him down and Ferri dropped the flag on the field before he was escorted away.
“I’ll call it, ‘THE LAST DANCE,’ my last field invasion, I wanted to send IMPORTANT messages, which I’ve felt experienced first hand in recent months,” Ferri wrote in an Instagram post.
Ferri wrote that he has friends in Ukraine who are suffering and that he spent a month in the country as a volunteer after Russia invaded the nation in February.
In the days ahead of the opening games, the captains of seven European teams were prohibited from wearing multi-colored “One Love” armbands during World Cup matches in support of of LGBTQ rights. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.
Some fans also complained they weren’t allowed to bring items with rainbow colors into stadiums.
Ferri said that prompted him to protest.
“FIFA banned the captains’ rainbow armbands and the flags for human rights in the stands, they banned everyone, BUT NOT ME,” Ferri wrote, adding “like a Robinhood 2.0, I brought the message to the PEOPLE. We want a free world that respects all races and ideas.”
Ferri said that police held him for about an hour after the incident and treated him well. He said FIFA President Gianni Infantino helped he secure his release without any penalties, except a ban from watching any more World Cup matches.
“But even for that there’s a solution. I’ve prepared some magic for tonight,” Ferri said in an Instagram recording, without giving details.
Ferri has interrupted several matches before. He said Infantino recognized him from running onto the field at World Cup matches in South Africa in 2010 and Brazil in 2014.
Ovechkin passes Gretzky for NHL road goals mark, Capitals defeat Canucks
VANCOUVER — Alex Ovechkin scored twice to pass Wayne Gretzky for the most road goals in NHL history, and the Washington Capitals defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 at Rogers Arena on Tuesday.
Ovechkin opened the scoring from the right side of the net following a giveaway by Quinn Hughes at 5:35 of the first period to tie the record with 402 road goals. He then passed Gretzky with a one-timer from the top left circle to make it 2-0 at 11:52.
“It’s always nice when you beat the Great One,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of milestone it is. It’s history.
“It seems like we always have fun on the road, spend time more together and I think everybody enjoys it.”
Anthony Mantha had a goal and an assist, and Darcy Kuemper made 31 saves for the Capitals (10-11-3), who ended a six-game road losing streak.
Washington, which has won three of its past four games overall, got goals from three lines.
“That was a good 60 right there,” Mantha said. “We were hard on them, obviously made good O-zone plays and the puck bounced our way.”
Spencer Martin made 23 saves for the Canucks (9-11-3), who had a season-long three-game winning streak end.
“We feel like we’ve come together and we’re getting better and better and building, so to come here and have a game go that way is disappointing,” said Martin, who started for the third time in four games. “And I take a lot of responsibility for this loss because the goalie has a unique way to affect the game and I felt like early in the game, I didn’t do enough to give us a chance.”
Ovechkin set the tone early for the Capitals, who did not lead at any point in their four previous road losses.
“He was really good in the first and I thought we were really good in the first so it was nice to get out and get a jump like that,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He certainly led. We knew we needed to have a good first period, have a good game and you need your best players to do that.”
Ovechkin’s first goal was his 135th game-opening goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for the most in NHL history. His second put him at 793 for his career, eight behind Gordie Howe for second in NHL history.
“I think he has 13 goals this year and I want to say like eight or nine have been … a new record,” said Dylan Strome, who made the cross-ice pass on the second goal. “I’m sure you will see the video of the reaction we had after the game when we found out so it’s pretty cool. So cool moment. Anytime you pass Wayne Gretzky in anything, it deserves a standing ovation, which he got.”
Nils Hoglander pulled the Canucks within 2-1 at 13:55 of the first period when he skated out of the corner, across the crease and beat Kuemper to the far post. J.T. Miller had the assist on the goal to extend his point streak to nine games (11 points; four goals, seven assists).
Mantha responded 40 seconds later to make it 3-1. He received a pass from Marcus Johansson and scored blocker after being left alone atop the crease between three defenders.
“We know that’s a desperate team over there as well, so it’s disappointing when you don’t come out and don’t execute and get outcompeted pretty much period by period there,” Miller said. “It’s frustrating because when you lose games, it should never be about your compete level and battle level. It’s frustrating because they didn’t out-skill us today, they didn’t out-system us. They literally just out-battled us and created their own chances.”
John Carlson made it 4-1 at 18:47 of the second period with a chip shot from the bottom left hash marks, and Martin Fehervary scored into an empty net with 4:03 left in the third for the 5-1 final.
Once they got back to the locker room, though, the focus was on Ovechkin.
“This one is unreal, obviously, beating the Great One and he becomes No. 1 in that aspect,” Mantha said. “I don’t even think he knew about it until after the game so good for him, and obviously, there’s more records that are going to get broken.”
NOTES: Ovechkin has 160 multigoal games in the NHL, second to only Gretzky (189). … Capitals forward Lars Eller had an assist on Mantha’s goal, his 200th NHL assist and his 200th point with the Capitals (83 goals, 117 assists). … Carlson has scored five goals in his past nine games. … Canucks forward Elias Pettersson had his point streak end at six games and was minus-5 in 17:04 of ice time.
Netherlands, Senegal advance out of Group A after wins on final match day
Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly, right, celebrates with teammates scoring his side’s second goal during the World Cup group A soccer match between Ecuador and Senegal, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. (Francisco Seco/AP)
AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly put his team into the last 16 of the World Cup by volleying home the winner in a 2-1 victory over Ecuador on Tuesday.
Koulibaly scored three minutes after Moises Caicedo had evened the score at 1-1.
In a must-win match for the African champions, Senegal took the lead after a first-half penalty by Ismaila Sarr. Caicedo scored his goal in the 67th.
At 1-1, Ecuador would have advanced from Group A and Senegal would have been eliminated.
The Netherlands beat Qatar 2-0 in the other match to win the group. Senegal finished second while Ecuador and Qatar were eliminated.
Senegal last advanced from the group stage at the 2002 World Cup, when the team reached the quarterfinals in its tournament debut.
Netherlands 2, Qatar 0
AL KHOR, Qatar (AP) — The Netherlands finished off the worst showing by any World Cup host nation by beating Qatar 2-0 on Tuesday.
The Dutch advanced to the round of 16 by winning Group A while the Qataris, who were already eliminated, became the first host to lose all three of its group matches at soccer’s biggest event.
Cody Gakpo put the Netherlands ahead midway through the first half with his third goal in as many matches and Frenkie de Jong doubled the advantage five minutes into the second half.
The Netherlands is a three-time runner-up at the World Cup, and also finished third in 2014, while Qatar was making its tournament debut.
The Dutch failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
The Netherlands finished with seven points at the top of the group. Senegal, which beat Ecuador 2-1 in the other group game, advanced in second place with six points. Ecuador was eliminated with four points and Qatar ended with zero.
The attendance at Al Bayt Stadium, which also hosted Qatar’s loss to Ecuador in the tournament opener, was given as 66,784 — nearly at full capacity. There were small pockets of orange-clad Netherlands supporters, and Qatar fans behind one of the goals who chanted in unison and jumped up and down.
At one point during the second half, Qatar fans held aloft a large Palestinian flag that said “Free Palestine” on it.
In the 26th minute, Gakpo took control outside the area, dribbled forward and unleashed a powerful side-footed shot between two defenders that entered inside the right post.
Gakpo became the fourth Dutch player to score in three consecutive World Cup games after Johan Neeskens (1974), Dennis Bergkamp (1994) and Wesley Sneijder (2010). He also became only the second player to open the scoring for his team three times in the same group stage after Alessandro Altobelli for Italy in 1986.
De Jong’s goal came when he sprinted forward uncontested to knock in a rebound from close range following a shot from Memphis Depay.
A possible third goal for the Netherlands by Steven Berghuis was waved off following a video review for a handball in the buildup.
Berghuis then hit the bar in added time.
While the Netherlands dominated the possession and created many more chances, Qatar did push forward on occasion and there was a nervy moment for the Dutch when goalkeeper Andries Noppert had trouble collecting a long-range shot from Ismael Mohamed after Gakpo’s goal.
Gakpo drew level with France standout Kylian Mbappé and Ecuador veteran Enner Valencia atop the tournament scoring chart.
For club and country in all competitions this season, Gakpo has been involved in 35 goals in 29 appearances with 17 goals scored and 18 assists.
That should make the 23-year-old PSV Eindhoven forward the target for an expensive transfer in the upcoming months.
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