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Canada women dominate but have to settle for 0-0 draw with Iceland at Algarve Cup

PARCHAL, Portugal — Canada dominated play, but had to settle for a 0-0 draw with Iceland at the Algarve Cup women's soccer tournament Wednesday.

PARCHAL, Portugal — Canada dominated play, but had to settle for a 0-0 draw with Iceland at the Algarve Cup women's soccer tournament Wednesday.

It was largely one-way traffic at Estadio Municipal da Bela Vista with fifth-ranked Canada consistently bearing down on No. 22 Iceland, which was limited to a few counter-attacks. 

But Canada failed to convert its chances with Iceland goalkeeper Sandra Sigurdardtottir coming up big on several occasions. By the end of the game, Iceland was packing 10 players behind the ball.

The Canadian women had 61 per cent possession, outshot Iceland 16-4 (5-2 in shots on target) and had a 9-2 edge in corners.

"I saw a great performance from our team —  a very very dominant performance in every aspect of the game," said Canadian coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller. "But the most crucial thing in the game, we didn't succeed on. I won't say it's a problem but it's something we need to work on. We need to be able to convert more than zero out of I don't know how many (chances)."

"Everything until the penalty area I was very pleased about," he added.

The Canadian women face No. 20 Scotland on Friday in Lagos. Canada is 6-1-0 all-time against Scotland. A third ranking match will be played March 6.

Heiner-Moller fielded a veteran team featuring captain Christine Sinclair, Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt and Desiree Scott, a quartet with 793 caps between them. Kailen Sheridan earned her seventh cap in goal.

Heiner-Moller deployed a back three of Schmidt, Kadeisha Buchanan and Rebecca Quinn with Janine Beckie and Ashley Lawrence rampaging up the flanks as fullbacks. Beckie, who won the FA Women's Continental League Cup on the weekend with Manchester City, earned her 50th cap for Canada.

Scott served as holding midfielder with Jessie Fleming and Matheson behind forwards Sinclair and Nichelle Prince.

Canada came close in the third minute when Matheson, after a timely run up the middle, sent a shot on target that was saved by Sigurdardtottir. In the sixth minute, Sinclair flicked on a Schmidt cross and a lunging Beckie got a foot to the ball, but a defender cleared it off the line.

Defender Sif Atladottir was booked in the 12th minute for a challenge that crumpled Sinclair.

Beckie curled a shot from outside the penalty box just wide in the 17th minute. And she came close again in the 24th minute, only to see her downward header off a Lawrence cross go straight at Sigurdardtottir.

Iceland threatened in the 29th minute. A looping cross hit the crossbar and deflected back to Gunnhildur Yrsa Jonsdottir, but her low shot went just wide of the post.

Seconds after going down in an awkward collision with Prince, Sigurdardtottir used her legs to stop a close-range Sinclair shot destined for goal in the 51st minute.

Sigurdardtottir made a remarkable save in the 61st minute, moving quickly across the face of the goal to stop Matheson poking in a Prince cross. Another acrobatic Sigurdardtottir save denied substitute Jordyn Huitema in the 82nd minute.

Canada beat Iceland the only other time they played, on a 42nd-minute goal by Beckie at the 2016 Algarve Cup.

Other Algarve Cup participants headed to the World Cup are the seventh-ranked Netherlands, No. 9 Sweden, No. 12 Spain, No. 13 Norway, No. 15 China and No. 20 Scotland. The other five participating teams are No. 17 Denmark, No. 18 Switzerland, No. 22 Iceland, No. 32 Portugal and No. 34 Poland.

Wednesday marked 100 days to the World Cup, where Canada has been drawn with No. 46 Cameroon, No. 19 New Zealand and the seventh-ranked Netherlands.

Canada finished fifth at the 2018 Algarve Cup after beating Japan 2-0 in its final match. Canada, second to Sweden in Group B with a 2-1-0 record, was consigned to the fifth-place game after finishing as the second-best runner-up behind Portugal (2-0-1).

The championship game between Sweden and the Netherlands was cancelled due to heavy rain. Both teams were awarded first place.

Canada won the tournament in 2016 and was runner-up in 2017.

The Canadian Press

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