Canada women edge Mexico in friendly, honor all-time greats

Canada's Christine Sinclair (red jersey) avoids a pair of Mexico defenders during their international friendly on February 4, 2017. (Photo: Canada Soccer)

VANCOUVER, Canada – On an evening in which some of its best-ever players officially stepped away from international football, Canada earned a 3-2 win over visiting Mexico in a women’s friendly on Saturday in front of 22,508 fans BC Place.

The match marked the last appearances in a Canada jersey for Marie-Eve Nault (71 caps/0 goals), Melissa Tancredi (125/27) and Rhian Wilkinson (181/7).

Canada opened the scoring in the 14th minute, when 17-year-old Deanne Rose received a pass from Christine Sinclair in midfield and slipped past a defender, before beating outstretched goalkeeper Bianca Henninger.

Mexico leveled two minutes later as Nancy Antonio – after intercepting an outlet pass -- ripped a shot from the top of the penalty area into the left side of the net.

Janine Beckie then scored two straight goals, giving the host a lead it would never relinquish.

In the 26th minute, the 22-year-old forward jumped on a poor clearance to curl a low shot deep into the net.

Then, after Sinclair was brought down in the box, Beckie converted a penalty kick in the 40th minute to make it 3-1 with her 14th career goal.

Katie Johnson netted off a Monica Ocampo corner kick to bring Mexico to within a goal, but hopes of a rally would go no further.

Substitute Maria Sanchez came closest to equalizing in the 73rd minute, only to see her left-footed free kick shave the top of the crossbar.

“They are some of my best friends that I’ve literally grown up with, but at the same time we wanted to win the game,” Sinclair said of her retiring teammates after the match.  “Very rarely do you get to send off three players like we did tonight, with this atmosphere and this home crowd, and they have meant so much to this team, and this country, and they are going to be missed.”

NOTES: Canada youth star Sarah Stratigakis, 17, made her senior debut and played 72 minutes … Players from the 2016 bronze-medal squad were also honored before kickoff, while members of the London 2012 team, including Carmelina Moscato, Emily Zurrer and Karina Leblanc, were given a rousing ovation at halftime.

Women’s International Friendly

February 4, 2017: BC Place – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (Att: 22,508)

Canada-Mexico 3-2 (3-1)

Canada: Stephanie Labbee (Sabrina D’Angelo 46’); Josee Belanger (Rhian Wilkinson 57’), Marie-Eve Nault, Shelina Zadorsky, Allysha Chapman, Sarah Stratigakis (Nichell Prince 72’), Desiree Scott, Jessie Fleming, Deanne Rose (Melissa Tancredi 76’), Janine Beckie, Christine Sinclair. Head Coach: John Herdman

Mexico: Bianca Henninger; Clarissa Robles (Melissa Flores 46’), Christina Murillo, Anna Mejia, Monica Flores, Sandra Stephany Mayor (Teresa Noyola 88’), Nancy Antonio, Natalia Gomez-Junco (Jaqueline Rodriguez 58’), Monica Ocampo (Maria Sanchez 63’), Katie Johnson, Kiana Palacios (Ariana Calderon 49’). Head Coach: Roberto Medina

R: Melissa Borjas (Honduras); AR1: Shirley Perello (Honduras); AR2: Nelly Salazar (Costa Rica); 4th: Karitza Guerra (Honduras)