Dead-ball Canucks down Argentina
© Foto-net

South American outsiders Argentina put up a brave fight against the highly-rated Canadians in Tianjin on Wednesday. But two clinical set pieces paved the way for a 2-1 win that now moves the Canucks to the top of Group E of the 2008 Women's Olympic Football Tournament.

After they were hammered 11-0 by Germany in the opener of last year's FIFA Women's World Cup, little was expected of Argentina in their first contest against highly-rated debutantes. However, the South Americans came out with resolute spirit and a nice short-passing approach that caused the Canadians trouble in the early stages.

Even so, the Albiceleste could not quite come to grips with Canada's superior size, speed and strength. Unsurprisingly, the opening goal came from a set piece. The Argentines were unable to properly clear their lines from a Canada corner kick, and defender Candace Chapman made them pay with a sizzling low left footer past Vanina Correa (1-0).

Five minutes later, the North Americans had the ball in the net again through Kara Lang, but the German referee spotted a foul and disallowed the strike.

The first half ended with Correa palming away a sizzling Kara Lang free kick from the edge of the penalty area, after striker Melissa Tancredi was forced to quit the field with an injury.

The Canadians spurned a few good chances as the second half wore on, most notably when Christine Sinclair pushed the ball wide with a open goal in her sights in the 64th minute. Strike partner Lang made no such mistake in the 72nd minute when, from another set piece - this time a Rhian Wilkinson free kick, she nodded home expertly inside the near post (2-0).

The Argentines, to their credit, refused to give up, and after some sparkling individual work on the left side by Mariela Coronel, substitute Ludmila Manicler managed to slam home a left-footed stunner inside Erin McLeod's top corner with five minutes to go (2-1). The consolation goal was just what they deserved, and a fitting first-ever Olympic goal for Argentina's women.

Canada will meet hosts China on 9 August, while Argentina line up against European heavyweights Sweden the same day.