Needing victory to climb above Australia in the Group C standings, Canada must have thought they had done enough when captain Christine Sinclair headed them 2-1 in front with just five minutes remaining. Yet Salisbury's late, late strike sent Australia through in second place behind Norway - and left North Americans broken-hearted.
After waiting 24 hours to get their postponed fixture under way,
Canada started with a bang. Melissa Tancredi latched on to a
tantalising cross from the right and looped her shot over the
stranded Melissa Barbieri with only 32 seconds gone. The early
scorer had another chance a few minutes later, but volleyed
Sinclair's service over the bar.
After the Canucks' explosive start to the match, Australia finished the first half with a flurry. In the space of two minutes near the interval, livewire forward Sarah Walsh forced goalkeeper Erin McLeod into a fingertip save before an almighty scramble ensued in the Canadian penalty area in which no fewer than three Australians saw close-range shots either blocked or saved or pushed wide of goal.
Australia got the equaliser they had threatened eight minutes after the restart when Colette McCallum slammed a left-footed free kick past McLeod. Yet needing to win, Canada came back at them. Jodi-Ann Robinson, on for the injured Tancredi, headed against an upright moments after taking the field and despite then losing goalkeeper McLeod to injury, they kept pushing. Their perseverance appeared rewarded when leading scorer Sinclair turned up at the back post to nod home following a corner on 85 minutes.
The drama not over yet, however, as rival captain Salisbury
poked home from close range at the very death to send the Matildas
into fits of celebration. Australia now move on to the last eight,
where they will meet Brazil, while Canada will curse their fortune
as they head for home.
Player of the Match: Cheryl Salisbury (AUS)