Canada's Josee Belanger (pictured) celebrates with Rhian Wilkinson after scoring against Switzerland in a FIFA Women's World Cup match on June 21, 2015, in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER -- Canada booked a place in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup semifinals with a 1-0 win over Switzerland on Sunday before a crowd of 53,855 at BC Place.
In the tightly-contested round of 16 encounter, Josee Belanger struck early in the second half, while Canada goalkeeper Erin McLeod made a key save to preserve the triumph.
Rhiann Wilkinson, who played only nine minutes in the previous three games, started the sequence that led to the goal. She sent in a right-sided cross into the penalty area that Christine Sinclair poked toward Belanger, who lashed a left-footed strike from 13-yards out past goalkeeper Gaelle Thalmann. It was 29-year-old’s sixth career international goal and her first in nearly five years.
Belanger nearly padded the lead with another goal in the 69th minute, but her bouncer on goal was cleared off the line by Caroline Abbe after Thalmann who was caught out of the goal.
“Belanger was fantastic in the second half, once she found her confidence,” said Canada head coach John Herdman. “She really came up trumps for Canada. I’m proud of our girls. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to achieve.”
McLeod ensured that home fans went home happy, flailing herself to the edge of the six-yard box to block Vanessa Bernauer’s effort with less than five minutes remaining in normal time.
Belanger nearly opened the scoring in the 16th minute, but her right-sided cross crashed off the left post.
In the quarterfinals on June 27, Canada will face the winner of Monday’s England-Norway matchup.