After defeating Australia 2-0 in its opening match, Canada cruised past Zimbabwe 3-1 in its second match of Group F in Sao Paolo.
It wouldn’t take long for Canada to get on the board. In the 7th minute, a cross from the right side by forward Christine Sinclair was volleyed first-time on goal by forward Janine Beckie, who was questionably in an offside position. Her initial attempt was saved by Zimbabwe goalie Chido Dzingirai but Beckie quickly spun around fired home the rebound with her left foot to give the North American side the 1-0 lead.
The favorites would almost double their lead in the eight minutes later. A lofted cross by Beckie from the left side found midfielder Diana Matheson at the back post and her first-time effort was rattled off the post.
The 2015 World Cup hosts would find their second goal shortly thereafter in the 19th minute after Dzingirai awkwardly fouled Matheson in the penalty area on a 50/50 challenge, resulting in a penalty kick. Sinclair stepped up to take the kick and calmly finished to the left of Dzingirai for the 2-0 advantage.
In the 35th minute, Canada would go up 3-0. A long pass from the center of the field found the feet of defender Josee Belanger out on the right wing. Belanger controlled the ball then whipped a beautiful cross into the box that went right to the on-running Beckie who smoothly put it past Dzingirai for her second goal of the match and third of the Olympics.
Zimbabwe could not muster anything offensively and found it very difficult to complete multiple passes in a row. Canada continued to dictated tempo and possession for the remainder of the first half and had numerous full, and half-chances on goal. At the halftime, the score was 3-0 in favor of the team in red.
In the second half, Canada had the majority of possession but clearly took its foot off the gas. The 2012 bronze medal winners knocked the ball around with ease as the half went on. However, completely against the run of play, Zimbabwe would snatch a goal back in the 85th minute. A long ball played forward that was flicked off the head of a Zimbabwe attacker created a 50/50 chance where Canadian goalie Sabrina D'Angelo was then beaten to the ball. With an empty net in front of her, Zimbabwe forward Mavis Chirandu simply passed the ball into the net to give her side a flicker of hope and cut the lead to 3-1.
Even with that late goal, the game was never in doubt. Canada came away victorious 3-1.
With Germany and Australia still to play at 5pm, Canada now sits first in the group with six points and a +4 goal differential. Zimbabwe, having given up nine goals in two games, finds itself in last place with a -7 goal differential.
Canada’s next match comes against Germany on Tuesday, August 9th at 3pm in Brasilia. Zimbabwe duels with Australia at the same time in Salvador.