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Canada advances to round of 16

After a comfortable win over New Zealand, Canada celebrates clinching a spot in the World Cup knockout round. (Photo courtesy of Sporting News.)

Today’s 2-0 win against New Zealand gave Canada the golden ticket to the knockout stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

It was 21-year old Jessie Fleming who scored the first goal of the game and was also named the player of the match. Nichelle Prince assisted Fleming’s goal with a hard, low ball across the box. Prince later added her own goal to the score sheet for Canada.

“Our expectations are so super high,” said Canadian coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller. “I’m very happy [about] the performance. I’m very happy for the win. But I know this team has more.”

It was Canada’s second game and win of the tournament, having defeated Cameroon 1-0.

Canada and Netherlands both sit at six points and are tied in first place for Group E. The two teams face off at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday to decide who claims the top spot in their pool.

The Canadians have suffered only one loss over the course of their last 16 games. The Netherlands, reigning European champions, will be a stressful change of pace for Canada, who have yet to concede a goal this tournament.

“[The Netherlands] might be a little step up, but we look at the opponents and see where can we hurt them and what do we need to do to shut them down,” said Heiner-Moller. “But most of all we’ll look at ourselves. We’ve continued growing in the tournament, and we’ll have a great game. We’re looking forward to playing Holland.”

There was one change to the starting line-up against New Zealand: 18-year old Jayde Riviere replaced Allysha Chapman who was out with an injury. Chapman subbed in for Riviere during the second half.

“That was quite a debut in a World Cup,” Heiner-Moller said of Riviere. “She has a bright future ahead of her.”

Many Canadian viewers had their eyes on Christine Sinclair, who sits just three goals away from tying Abby Wambach for most international career goals. However, after two hard-fought World Cup matches with multiple chances that almost resulted in goals, the Canadian captain remains on 181.

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