Matildas finish huge 2023 with narrow loss to Canada as all-time great gets perfect farewell

WATCH: The Matildas went down 1-0 to Canada in their final match of 2023.

Canada have given legendary striker Christine Sinclair the perfect farewell, completing a clean sweep of the Matildas with a 1-0 victory in Vancouver.

A goal from Quinn just prior to half-time proved to be the difference on the night, as the Olympic Gold medallists bid farewell to one of the greatest players in the history of the game on Wednesday (AEDT) at BC Place (renamed ‘Christine Sinclair Place’ for the night).

Sinclair received a huge ovation from the 48,112 in attendance – the biggest crowd ever for a women’s international friendly in Canada – and a guard of honour from her current and former teammates when she took the field alongside her two nieces for her 331st and final international cap.

The legendary attacker played 58 minutes before being replaced by Sophie Schmidt – who also played her final international game.

After losing the last fixture 5-0 at Starlight Stadium on Saturday (AEDT), Matildas boss Tony Gustavsson made 10 changes to the starting lineup, fielding a much stronger side in comparison to the highly criticised, experimental XI that took the field in Langford.

However, despite Gustavsson’s talk about load management, the Swede made only the one substitute throughout the contest on an artificial surface – bringing Tameka Yallop on for Katrina Gorry – who missed training the day prior to the game due to illness.

The Matildas struggled to break through Canada’s defensive set-up, only creating a handful of clear cut opportunities.

“We don’t care about the result, really, although you want your national team to win, I mean that’s a given,” Network 10’s Andy Harper said post-game.

“But the performance was for the best team we’ve got, minus probably the minister for defence Mackenzie (Arnold) at the moment and certainly Sam (Kerr), it was so flat, so unimaginative.

“Now we’ve been told, and we will hear that we’re trying to re-engineer the way we play and to take the team to the next level and that’s understandable and fine, just the two game window provided very little evidence of how that’s gaining traction.

“Saturday’s game almost is an irrelevance now because none of those players got to feature again to see how they would go and then the starting XI, it showed very little ability to alter their real strength, which is to press we know and we can see it, it’s fantastic, in transition, open field, incredibly dangerous with Raso and Foord, etcetera, Sam Kerr when she is there.

“Diagonal balls to the wings is very, very dangerous. To re-engineer the team to take it to the next level, which is what we’re told is the project and let’s support it.

“No evidence over these two games, from what I could see very, very flat in that second half in particular.”

Teagan Micah was the only survivor from the starting lineup last week, with their best chance of the first-half falling to Mary Fowler who fired a long range effort wide of the mark.

Canada were a threat on the counter through Cloe Lacasse and Nichelle Prince, with the duo getting in behind the Matildas defence on a couple of occasions.

The latter was particularly dangerous, putting an effort just wide of Micah’s goal in the 16th minute.

Their sustained effort paid off late in the first-half, as Jessie Fleming’s corner was nodded to the back post by Sinclair to Kadeisha Buchanan who slammed the crossbar with her effort, with Quinn reacting quickest to poke home the opener.

The home side had the ball in the back of the net again, but this time through Vanessa Gilles, but was called back due to a foul on Micah – who was given the all clear to continue after some treatment following the collision.

Canada continued to pose a threat after the break, with Lacasse pouncing on a miscommunication in the heart of the Matildas defence to force a smart stop from Micah.

Prince – who scored a brace on the weekend – looked bound to add another to her name in Vancouver, breaking behind Hunt, but just as she was about to shoot on goal, the Houston Dash attacker got the ball caught beneath her, allowing Micah a chance to put her off moments before firing wide.

The Matildas had a golden opportunity to bring the scores level in the 75th minute as Yallop received the ball in a great position inside the box, but her effort on goal was slammed over the bar.

Substitute Adriana Leon was a thorn in the Matildas side when she came on in the second-half and was denied twice in quick succession, by Hunt and then a Micah save.

Instead of opting for a change in personnel to chase an equaliser, Gustavsson threw forward Alanna Kennedy as a makeshift striker, with her best chance coming from a header in the 89th minute.

Canada were able to hold firm in the final moments, sending off Sinclair and Schmidt on a high note.