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Twice as nice: the Canadian women's soccer team took down France in a crucial game at a second straight Olympics.
Janine Beckie has been Canada's breakout star so far at this tournament and she showed superb skill, chipping the ball over a defender and delivering a delightful pass, to set up Sophie Schmidt's goal in the 55th minute.
The remainder of the game was tight and tense, with Stephanie Labbe being called on in goal to make a couple key saves and keep her team organized in the box, as Canada hung on for a 1-0 quarterfinal win Friday in Sao Paolo, the same score by which they beat France in the bronze medal game at London 2012.
The victory over No. 3 France is Canada's third against a top-five team at these Olympics, having topped No. 2 Germany 2-1 and No. 5 Australia 2-0 in the group stage. Young players like Beckie and midfielder Jessie Flemming have gelled with veterans like Schmidt and captain Christine Sinclair and they're seeing immediate success despite limited experience on the field together.
"In the second half they started playing free again, fearless" said Yahoo Canada's Olympic expert Karina LeBlanc. "The goal is the youth to the veteran, everyone is in the same class, and it was so awesome to see Christine get emotional at the end. It's a full team effort. Everyone knows their role. There's clarity in their role."
Now Canada is one win away from guaranteeing they improve on that finish from four years ago. A rematch with Germany is ahead in the semifinals Tuesday in Belo Horizonte. Canada will be without right back Josee Belanger, who is banned for yellow card accumulation after picking one up late against France.
With the favoured Americans eliminated earlier Friday after losing to Sweden in penalties, the opportunity is there for Canada to take advantage. Beating Germany again will require another excellent performance, but the way the Canadians are playing they'll be feeling very good about their chances.
"I think Canada needs to keep doing what they're doing. They're the team that other teams are confused about because of the combination of youth and veterans," said LeBlanc. "I don't think any team wants to play Canada right now because they have that momentum."
More Summer Olympics coverage from Yahoo Canada Sports:
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