Leon scores winner for Canada at World Cup

Wednesday 26 July 2023 15:19

Manchester United forward Adriana Leon scored the winning goal as Canada beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 at the Women's World Cup.

The 30-year-old, who started on the left flank in a 4-2-3-1 formation, neatly controlled Sophie Schmidt's pass inside the box before poking the ball past Irish keeper Courtney Brosnan in the 53rd minute.

Three minutes later, Leon - wearing number 19 for her country - unleashed an ambitious effort from just outside the box which flashed wide of the target.

She was then taken off just before the hour mark and replaced by Cloe Lacasse.

Leon’s United team-mate Jayde Riviere, in the no.8 shirt for Canada, also gained more valuable tournament experience at the age of 22. She played the majority of the match at right-back before Allysha Chapman took her place in stoppage time.

Canada had to come from behind to secure a vital victory over the tournament debutants amid wet and windy conditions in Perth, Australia.

The Olympic champions were held to a surprise goalless draw by Nigeria in their opening game in Group B - which Leon and Riviere also started before being substituted in the second half.

They must have been fearing the worst when captain Katie McCabe found the net directly from a corner in the fourth minute to score the Republic of Ireland’s first ever World Cup goal.

Canada were poor in the first half but went in level at the break as Julia Grosso’s cross was diverted past her own keeper by Irish defender Megan Connolly deep into injury time.

Three changes at the interval by Canada’s English coach Bev Priestman made a huge difference as one of the substitutes, Schmidt, set up the experienced Leon for the decisive moment.

The Canadians were much improved in the second period but had to withstand some late pressure as the Irish pushed for an equaliser, which proved elusive.

Canada now top the group ahead of their game on Monday (kick-off 11:00 BST) against second-placed Australia, who will look to build on their winning start when taking on Nigeria first on Thursday. After two successive defeats, the Republic of Ireland are bottom and cannot qualify for the knockout stage.


The next United players who could be involved in the tournament are England trio Mary Earps, Katie Zelem and Ella Toone, when the Lionesses face Denmark on matchday two in Group D on Friday (kick-off 09:30 BST).

Then on Sunday, Reds midfielder Vilde Boe Risa could feature again for Norway, who need to beat the Philippines in their third and final Group A match (kick-off 08:00 BST) to stand any chance of progressing to the knockout stage.