The Canadian women’s national soccer team did everything but score in a dominating performance at their opening game of the 2019 Algarve Cup in Parchal, Portugal, on Wednesday.Canada had the majority of possession and most of the chances, but could not breakthrough in a 0-0 tie against Iceland at the Da Bela Vista Municipal Stadium.With 20 attempts on goal to Iceland’s four, Canada had 64 per-cent possession of the ball.“Today was a great performance from our team. A very, very dominant performance in every aspect of the game, but the most crucial thing in the game we didn’t succeed on,” said Canadian coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller. “It’s something we need to work on. We need to be able to convert. We do know Iceland defends with a big heart.”The result means Canada will not make it to the final of the three-game tournament, also featuring the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Norway, China, Denmark, Switzerland, Scotland, Portugal and Poland.Canada, the highest ranked team in the tournament at No. 5, will play Scotland on Friday and round out the event with a ranking game March 6. The tournament is a lead-up to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, which is 100 days away.“Iceland beat Scotland 2-1, and I expect a match a little like this,” Heiner-Moller said. “They are more technical in midfield, which we need to take in consideration. I hope for as good a performance as we just put on.”Attacking in wavesCanada played a 3-5-2 formation against Iceland and fielded a side that included veterans Christine Sinclair, Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt and Desiree Scott.Matheson suited up for the first time since the World Cup qualifiers in October and it only took the veteran two and-a-half minutes to make an impression. Taking a pass from Sinclair at the top of the box, Matheson forced Iceland’s goalkeeper, Sandra Sigurdardottir, to make an outstanding save less than three minutes into the game.It was a sign of things to come for Sigurdardottir and Iceland, as Canada kept attacking in waves.Midfielder Janine Beckie, who was making her 50th international appearance and had an outstanding first half, should have put Canada ahead in the sixth minute, but could not poke home a ball from three yards out as Iceland defender Hallbera Gisladottir cleared it off the goal-line.Just under five minutes later, Sigurdardottir tipped a shot from Ashley Lawrence over the crossbar. And five minutes after that, Sigurdardottir saw an effort from Beckie from the top of the box bend just wide of the far post.Beckie had another outstanding opportunity in the 20th minute, when she was picked out at the far post on a cross from Jesse Fleming from the left wing. Beckie’s header, however, landed right at the feet of Sigurdardottir, who was scrambling back into her net.
Canadian midfielder Janine Beckie, left, plays the ball in front of Iceland midfielder Elin Jensen at the Algarve Cup in Parchal, Portugal on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. The game finished in a 0-0 tie.
Iceland’s lone chance of the game came in the 28th minute, when a right-footed cross by Alga Albertsdottir floated onto the crossbar and the rebound eventually fell to Gunnhildur Jonsdottir, who forced Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan to make an excellent diving save to her right.Sinclair, who is seven goals away from the all-time international record currently held by American Abby Wambach, had a pair of good chances later in the half, but was turned away by desperate Icelandic defenders, who managed to throw themselves in front of her shots.‘We got unlucky’Five minutes into the second half, Sinclair had her best opportunity to increase her international goal total to 179, as the ball fell to her at the six-yard box, but Sigurdardottir turned her left-footed, point-blank drive away.More chances fell the Canadians way in the second half. Matheson was on the end of a move started by Sinclair, who found Nichelle Prince on the overlap down the right side. Prince lofted the ball into Matheson, who made an outstanding run to the far post, but the veteran was unable to get enough on her lunging attempt to muscle it past Sigurdardottir, who palmed it away.In the 81st minute, Canadian substitute Jordyn Huiteman fired a shot from just inside the area, which forced Sigurdardottir to make another outstanding save.“We went in with the attitude to start out strong and I think we completed that task,” said Canadian defender Rebecca Quinn. “Unfortunately, we didn’t put one of those away, but we got great quality chances in the first five minutes. We’re getting those final acts and we’re getting good quality crosses in on goal. We got unlucky a few times (Wednesday), so I’m sure in the next game we’ll slot a few in.”Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgOn Twitter: @DerekVanDiest