Canada beat Zimbabwe 3-1 at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo in what felt like a match of two halves. The Canadians scored all three goals in the first half thanks to a brace from Janine Beckie, but Zimbabwe finished the match strong, scoring a late goal to the delight of the 30,000 crowd.
Zimbabwe played without defender Lynett Mutokuto, who received a one-match suspension for having committed what was considered a serious foul against Germany. Since the infringement escaped the match officials’ attention, the incident was submitted to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for consideration and decision.
Canada set the tone early in Sao Paulo. There was a sense of déjà vu when Beckie once again showed her strength in being ready to score goals early on when she opened the scoring in the seventh minute. On Thursday in Canada's 2-0 win over Australia, Beckie broke the record for the fastest goal in the history of Olympic football, scoring within 20 seconds.
Just as it went against Australia, Beckie latched on to a cross from Christine Sinclair after scoring her second opportunity following Zimbabwe goalkeeper Chido Dzingirai's initial save.
About ten minutes later, Diane Matheson was taken down inside the penalty area, and Sinclair stepped up and converted from the spot to register her tenth Olympic career goal and double Canada's lead.
Jessie Fleming had a very positive half and she made a perfect long pass to Josee Belanger on the right wing in the 35th minute. Belanger crossed it and Beckie showed her clinical edge as she registered her second goal of the day, and her third of the tournament so far.
The crowd at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo were completely behind Zimbabwe throughout the match and in the 86th minute, they finally got what they were wishing for: a Zimbabwe goal. Mavis Chirandu scored after Marjory Nyaumwe fought hard for the ball and reached it before Canada goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo, who rushed out of her penalty area in attempt to make a clearance.
Chirandu scored with a simple touch, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The whole stadium, over 30,000 people attended, chanted for Zimbabwe until the final whistle.
Canada will have to do without star defender Kadeisha Buchanan against Germany in the next match due to her receiving a yellow card.
In the end, Zimbabwe can be proud of their effort even if they have lost both matches. With the win, Canada moved to the top of Group F with six points.