Christine Sinclair scored career goal No. 182 in a losing cause Thursday as Canada fell 2-1 to the European champion Netherlands, finishing in second place in Group E at the Women’s World Cup.
The fifth-ranked Canadians make the short trip to Paris to face either the top-ranked U.S. or No. 9 Sweden in the round of 16 Monday. Those two teams met later Thursday to decide the Group F winner.
The eighth-ranked Dutch head to Rennes to face No. 7 Japan, the Group D runner-up.
Substitute Lineth Beerensteyn scored the winner in the 75th minute, evading the Canadian defence to knock in a cross from close range. The goal ended Canada’s 10-game unbeaten streak (7-0-3), dating back to last October.
Canada pressed for an equalizer and Janine Beckie had a glorious chance to tie it in the 83rd minute but her header went wide.
The Dutch began to show off their offensive skills early on and Canada was fortunate to walk off the field at halftime tied 0-0.
The Canadians seemed to be reacting rather than imposing their will.
The Dutch were finally rewarded for their efforts in the 54th minute on a majestic header by defender Anouk Dekker off a well-placed Sherida Spitse free kick earned when Ashley Lawrence had to cut down a Dutch attacker. Dekker lost defender Kadeisha Buchanan, rising high to head the ball into the corner.
The goal ended Canada’s 477-minute shutout streak, dating back to a 2-1 win over Nigeria on April 8. It was only the second goal conceded by Canada in 11 games this year.
— Neil Davidson (@NeilMDavidson) June 20, 2019
But a sliding Sinclair pulled Canada even in the 60th minute, beating Desiree van Lunteren at the far post to poke in a Lawrence cross. The 36-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., is now just three goals from breaking Abby Wambach’s world record of 184.
Sinclair came off in the 68th minute, saved for the knockout stage.
Canada and the Netherlands arrived with near identical records after beating No. 19 New Zealand and No. 46 Cameroon. Both teams had six points and a goal difference of plus-three. But the European champion Dutch had the tiebreaker by virtue of having scored one more goal, meaning Canada needed a win to top the group.
With Reims some 400 kilometres from the Dutch border, Stade Auguste-Delaune was a sea of orange with the occasional pocket of red. The Holland chants started before the player introductions, with the outnumbered Canadians launching their own cheers.
The Dutch supporters brought their own band, adding to the party-like atmosphere.
Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller gave teenage forward Jordyn Huitema her first taste of the World Cup. The 18-year-old replaced Nichelle Prince, whose leg was strapped at training this week. Fullback Allysha Chapman, who played just 15 minutes off the bench last time out, reclaimed her starting spot at fullback.
There was drama on the field from the get-go with French referee Stephanie Frappart pointing to the spot one minute in when Beckie, after tangling with van Lunteren, tumbled to the ground just inside the penalty box.
As Sinclair waited for the spot kick, the call went to video review and after a delay of some four minutes, the call was downgraded to a free kick just outside the box. Sinclair’s free kick hit the Dutch wall, to the relief of the Dutch hordes behind the goal.
The Dutch players took a deep breath and reloaded, controlling the ball and probing the Canadian defence.
A Huitema goal in the 22nd minute on a Canadian counter-attack was ruled offside. At the other end, Buchanan used her athleticism to beat Dutch star striker Vivianne Miedema to a looping ball deep into the Canadian end.
The Dutch came close in the 30th minute when goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe failed to clear a Shanice van de Sanden cross, instead knocking it back into play off the crossbar. But a sliding Danielle van de Donk was unable to get a foot to the ball in a mass of bodies.
Canadian fans held their breath two minutes later when Labbe slipped going after a Chapman back pass. But somehow Labbe got to the ball before a Dutch attacker.
Miedema hit the goalpost in the 33rd minute, separating herself from defender Shelina Zadorsky with an elegant turn to make room for the shot. Van de Donk then shot high with a bicycle kick as the Dutch upped the degree of difficulty.
Labbe had another narrow escape later in the half, racing outside the box to get to a ball before Miedema. She only just did and Buchanan, yellow-carded on the play, had to take the Dutch striker down to end the threat.
Canada had not lost to the Netherlands in 12 prior meetings (9-0-3). The Canadians won 2-1 the last time they met — 2-1 in Eindhoven in April 2016 — and the teams tied 1-1 at the 2015 World Cup in Montreal.
Canada was looking to down its second straight confederation champion at the tournament, having dispatched Oceania’s New Zealand 2-0 last time out.
The Canadian women were also looking to win all three preliminary-round games for the first time in seven trips to the tournament. Canada won three straight — two in group play and a quarterfinal — in 2003 when it finished a career-best fourth.
The Dutch had won six straight going into Thursday’s game.
Opened in 1935, Stade Auguste-Delaune hosted Hungary’s 6-0 win over Indonesia at the 1938 men’s World Cup. The 20,500-capacity stadium, simple but intimate, was renovated in 1995 and 2008.
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press