Despite not looking exceptionally dangerous offensively, Canada earned a win in their opening match of the 2019 World Cup, beating Cameroon 1-0. The Canadians were aided by a solid defensive performance, looking especially to Kadeisha Buchanan, Allysha Chapman, Ashley Lawrence, and Desiree Scott to keep Cameroon at bay. On the opposing end, the Indomitable Lions showcased defensive talent of their own, with Estelle Johnson showing particularly well for Cameroon.
Canada dominated the first half, with possession leaning heavily in their favor despite a few sloppy passes in the midfield and a number of off-target shots. Cameroon looked to put Canada under pressure, force giveaways, and counter quickly, but didn’t find a ton of success against Canada’s backline; Stephanie Labbe barely touched the ball in the first 45 minutes of play.
Nichelle Prince had a great chance in the 25th minute when Sheilina Zadorsky sent a ball from the back to Janine Beckie, completely unmarked on the right side of the field. Beckie found Prince on the cross, but Prince was unable to put her shot on frame.
On a 45th minute corner for Canada, Kadeisha Buchanan made a late far post run from the top of the eighteen. Completely unmarked by the Cameroonian defense, she rose up to get on the end of Janine Beckie’s cross and head the ball into the back of the net.
Canada continued to find success in the second half of the game, especially through Ashley Lawrence pushing up the right flank. Lawrence had a fantastic game overall, both contributing going forward and coming back to make a couple important defensive stops.
Both teams earned themselves chances in the second half; Jeanette Yango headed the ball just wide on a Cameroon corner in the 70th minute, and Christine Sinclair had a dangerous look off a glancing header in the 77th minute and two more opportunities in the closing minutes of the game.
How did the Thorns do?
It was a pretty typical — if quiet — game for Christine Sinclair, featuring fantastic off-the-ball movement, a couple solid passes to set up chances for her teammates, and a few scoring chances (that she was unfortunately unable to finish).
As a playmaker, Sinclair showed especially well in the earlier parts of the game. She found a great pass to Janine Beckie in the 15th minute and another to Sophie Schmidt in the 16th, setting both players up for decent shots at the top of the box.
Sinclair had two headed opportunities off set pieces in the opening five minutes of the match, both of which she sent off target. She had another great look with a ball finding her feet from over the top in the 23rd minute, finding herself just ahead of her defender, but wasn’t able to corral the ball enough to send it on frame. She directed another header wide in the 77th minute, getting on the end of a fantastic run and cross from Deanne Rose. In the closing minutes of the match, Sinclair tried to double the lead, getting on the end of two chances, but was couldn’t seem to find her 182nd international goal.