There were nearly two big upsets Saturday in women’s soccer, as Zambia gave China everything it could handle in a thrilling eight-goal draw while Canada escaped a Chilean challenge.
Bev Priestmann‘s Canadians are the eighth-ranked FIFA side and took a 2-0 lead on 37th-ranked Chile through a pair of Janine Beckie goals but conceded a penalty and saw the South Americans rip a late shot off the crossbar in what could’ve left Canada winless through two matches.
No. 15 China had no such luck, giving away a 3-1 lead in a 4-4 draw with Zambia, the world’s 104th-ranked side. China finished the match with 10 players, but will feel like it needed 13 or 14 to harness Zambia’s Barbra Banda, the first Zambian player to play in Europe.
She is on track to be one of the tournament’s breakout stars after scoring six goals through two matches.
Chile 1-2 Canada
Beckie scored twice after missing an early VAR-awarded penalty and could’ve easily had a hat trick that would’ve made Canada’s win a lot smoother.
Instead, Chile’s Karen Araya converted a VAR-awarded penalty of her own to force the Canadians to hold on tight for a win.
Kadeisha Buchanan led a terrific rush into the 18 and the ball was in the goal for what could’ve been a dream start had Buchanan not accidentally handled the ball over the line.
Video Assistant Referee sent Canada to the penalty spot when Christine Sinclair took studs to the calf, and the world’s all-time leading scorer was unable to take the kick. Janine Beckie went instead and smashed the ball off the post.
Beckie got Canada’s goal before halftime as the favorites dominated the run of play, cleaning up a loose ball after Chile’s goalkeeper Christiane Endler parried the ball onto her path.
Manchester City forward Beckie made it 2-0 when she timed her run to meet Ashley Lawrence‘s through ball perfectly, cutting around Endler to slot into the yawning goal.
But Chile wouldn’t quit and won its own penalty off VAR after a Shelina Zadorsky foul, with Araya smashing her penalty home. Endler soon stopped a Canadian breakaway to keep the scoreline 2-1.
The Chileans struck the frame inside of the game’s final 20 minutes, bidding for a historic first Olympic result.
Canada’s four points will likely be enough for the knockout rounds, while 0-2 Chile will have to hope for an upset of Japan on the final day and help from the other groups. Two of three third-place teams make the quarterfinals.
China 4-4 Zambia
It’s Barbra Banda’s Olympics, as the 21-year-old Zambian picked up her second hat trick in as many matches and this one, quite unlike the three-goal showing in a 10-3 loss to Netherlands, produced a point for Zambia.
China’s now conceded an alarming nine goals through two matches and will need to surprise a strong Netherlands side to have any hope of the knockout rounds.
The favored Chinese took an expected lead after six minutes but that was the end of the standard fare in what would become a five-goal first half.
Rachel Kundananji knotted the score at 1-1 at the hour mark before VAR took a goal off the board two minutes later. Then it was two goals in two minutes for China, Shanshan Wang twice setting up Shuang Wang before Banda got her first just before halftime from the penalty spot.
Banda picked up where she left off after the break, making it 3-3 in the 47th minute. A penalty was then taken away by VAR before Banda completed her hat trick in the 69th.
VAR then awarded a penalty to China, and Wang completed her hat trick with seven minutes left in the 90.
China hit the frame and then found itself down a player when Banda got beyond the backline and was dragged down by Li Qingtong.
Would Zambia reestablish a lead with the game’s ninth goal? No, but not for lack of effort.