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Leon Roars Once More: Canada vs Paraguay Review

By on February 26, 2024 0 772 Views

It was another clinical day at the office for the Canadian Women’s National Team on Sunday as they swept past Paraguay 4-0 in the second round of the Concacaf W Gold Cup thanks largely to a stellar hattrick from Adriana Leon.

Bev Priestman opted for a stronger lineup than the one she chose against El Salvador. Vanessa Gilles, Deanne Rose, Ashley Lawrence, and Kailen Sheridan all started in place of Gabriella Carle, Shelina Zadorsky, Sabrina D’Angelo and Jordyn Huitema. Olivia Smith also got the start after her impressive performance in the last game in place of the injured Nichelle Prince.

Canada would start as they ended off against El Salvador, using the width in that 3-4-3 formation to attack Paraguay down the wings and threaten in behind. It would, however, take a little bit before they would turn on the heat. They would have to wait until the 25th minute to open their account, with a mistake at the back for Paraguay putting it on a plate for Adriana Leon to thrash home from the volley. VAR would threaten to rule it out, but upon review, the goal was confirmed.

Cloe Lacasse would come close to doubling the scoreline seven minutes later, but her header crashed off the crossbar, whilst she was also allegedly in an offside position. It would instead be Olivia Smith who would get the second for Canada in the 40th minute, picking up a rebound off a Deanna Rose shot, dancing past two defenders and smashing it into the back of the net.

With the two-goal advantage at the break, Priestman would make some changes to keep fresh legs for the second half. The substitutions would include Clarissa Larisey coming into the fold for Deanna Rose, and making an immediate impact for Canada. Larisey would burst down the left just three minutes into the half and cross a dangerous ball into the box. The ball would bounce around the Paraguayan defenders before being poked in by Leon for her second of the night.

Leon would get her third and Canada’s fourth just a few minutes later, after some slick attacking play. Lawrence would find Larisey just outside the box, who would flick to Leon in behind on the left. Ever the prolific scorer, Leon would take it in stride and thrash it into the roof of the net to complete her hat trick.

Paraguay would shore up their defence afterwards, limiting Canada’s chances. They would have a huge chance to make it 5-0 in the 82nd minute, when Evelyne Viens would try to slide it across for Jordyn Huitema to tap in, only for Huitema to be a step behind. Huitema would get the ball into the back of the net two minutes later, but Larisey was deemed offside in the build-up.

Canada would get ever so close to make it 5-0 in added time, when Simi Awujo would be fouled in the box for a penalty. Newly-captained Jessie Fleming would step up to the spot, but her effort was too powerful and it would blast off the crossbar and out, meaning the match would end as 4-0 to Les Rouges.

Overall, while the team started a little slow, they turned on the jets in the second half. Larisey, Viens, and Awujo were impressive off the bench, showcasing the strength that Canada have in their depth and Priestman’s willingness to let some fringe players have the chance to shine ahead of the later rounds of the W Gold Cup, and eventually, the Olympics.

Canada will face their final group stage match against Costa Rica on Wednesday, a team who currently sits third after their 1-0 loss to Paraguay in Matchday One. If they can keep up their fine goalscoring form, Canada may face one of the best ranked third place team in the quarter-finals, should they continue to hold their spot in the top two teams of the group stage.

Header Image Photo Credit: Audrey Magny

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