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Canada beats France to win bronze

COVENTRY, ENGLAND—It will be remembered as the greatest moment in Canadian women’s soccer history, an improbable goal in extra time that has given the country an Olympic bronze medal.

Diana Matheson scored in extra time to give Canada 1-0 win over France here Thursday afternoon to set off a raucous celebration of a team a nation has grown to love.

After fighting off the physical and mental fatigue on a difficult week under intense pressure — to say nothing of a second-half entirely dominated by the French — the women won Canada’s first medal in a traditional team sport since 1936.

Against the run of play, Canada launched a full-out attack into the French box in the 92nd minute. Sophie Schmidt’s shot hit a French leg and bounced back to Matheson who made no mistake on the shot.

It was an incredible end to an incredible week for the women, who lost a heart-breaking semi-final to the United States marked by dubious officiating.

And then it was the French, who had soundly beaten Canada 4-0 at last year’s World Cup, who took over a listless game in the second half and had several chances to break through.

They had taken one shot off the post, one off the bar and one off, it appeared, the face of Canadian keeper Erin McLeod in a desperate attempt to score.

But with extra time looming, and Canada obviously exhausted, Matheson and Schmidt combined for the historic goal.

“I feel amazing,” Matheson told CTV moments after her winning goal.

“We thought as a group we’d earn this medal and we did. Our goal coming in was to be on the podium and that’s what we were focusing on (not the US result).”

Matheson also felt the bronze medal will boost interest in women’s soccer across Canada, and set up Canada’s role as host of the 2015 World Cup.

“We came in (to Olympics) wanting to leave a legacy for Canadian soccer and we did that.”