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Gilles’ goal gives Canada a rare win over Germany at Arnold Clark Cup

Defender Vanessa Gilles’ early goal lifted Canada to a rare victory over Germany on Sunday, a 1-0 decision that moved the Olympic champions atop the standings at the four-team Arnold Clark Cup.

The third-ranked Germans (0-1-1) had plenty of the ball but lacked clinical finishing in a scrappy game on a damp blustery evening at Carrow Road. Gilles, however, was on the mark and Canada (1-0-1) absorbed some late pressure — including a string of corners — to hang on for the triumph.

Sixth-ranked Canada went ahead in the seventh minute when Gilles, a force in the air, headed home Janine Beckie’s corner to open her international account. The Canadian center back soared above Klara Buehl before defeating goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger with her downward header.

Both teams benefited from some non-calls, with Germany unsuccessfully appealing for two penalties.

It was only Canada’s second win in 17 meetings (2-15-0) with Germany.

The lone previous victory was a 2-0 decision in group play at the 2016 Rio Olympics on the strength of two goals by Melissa Tancredi. Germany avenged that loss a week later with a 2-1 semifinal victory before defeating Sweden 2-1 to attain gold. The Canadians claimed bronze after dispatching host Brazil 2-1.

Earlier, No. 8 England (0-0-2) and No. 9 Spain (0-0-2) played to a scoreless draw in the opener of Sunday’s doubleheader.

The Canadian women face Spain on Wednesday at Wolverhampton’s Molineux Stadium.

Canada and Germany both needed to rally to earn 1-1 ties in their opening matches Thursday.

Canada drew with England on the strength of Beckie’s highlight-reel strike in the 55th minute while Germany needed an 87th-minute goal by Lea Schueller to pull even with Spain. Both games were at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough.

Midfielder Desire Scott, earning her 172nd cap Sunday, captained Canada for the seventh time. Fellow midfielder Jessie Fleming was skipper for the first game, with Christine Sinclair back home after the recent death of her mother.

Canada coach Bev Priestman made three alterations to her starting lineup with Nichelle Prince, Cloe Lacasse and Quinn, who goes by one name, slotting in. The starting 11 came into the game with a combined 778 caps.

It marked the first start and fourth cap for the 28-year-old Lacasse, a forward who plays in Portugal for Benfica. It was cap No. 75 for Quinn, who had an outstanding game.

The Germans made seven changes to their starting lineup.

Unlike its opener versus England, Canada started well and caused the Germans problems with its press. Germany came on as the half wore on, however.

Germany currently tops its UEFA World Cup qualifying group at 6-0-0, outscoring its opposition 31-2. The German women came into Sunday’s game undefeated in seven games (6-0-1) since a 1-0 friendly loss to France last June and were 35-3-3 since March 2018 — with the lone losses to France, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Canada improved to 10-3-6 record under Priestman, including two shootout wins at the Tokyo Olympics. The losses were to the U.S., Brazil and Mexico. The England tournament’s title sponsor, Arnold Clark, is a family-run car dealer.

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