Jesse Fleming scored a penalty in the second half as Canada defeated four-time Olympic women’s soccer champions the United States 1-0 in Kashima on Monday to enter the final for the first time.
Fleming’s 74th-minute spot-kick gave Canada their first win over neighbors since 2001 and set up a clash with either Sweden or Australia for the gold medal.
The defeat ended the Americans’ 36-match unbeaten run against Canada. The world champions will face the losers in the second semi-final on Monday for the consolation of the bronze medal.
United States and Canada for the last seven goals scored at the Olympics; A memorable 4-3 semi-final win for America after extra time at Old Trafford in 2012.
American goalkeeper Alyssa Naher, the hero of her quarter-final victory over the Dutch on penalties, needed prolonged treatment here for her right knee after landing awkwardly while trying to collect a cross.
Naher, who made a spot-kick and two more saves in the shootout in normal time against the 2019 World Cup runners-up, struggled for some time but was eventually replaced by Adriana Franch in the first half.
It was not until the introduction of Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Kristen Press that America recorded the first shot on target, a curling strike from Lloyd tipped by Stephanie Labe.
Labe prevented two as Canada gave Brazil the lead on penalties in the previous round, and she made another sharp save to put Julie Ertz’s header on a corner.
The United States had advanced to every Olympic final except Rio 2016, where they lost to Sweden on penalties in the last eight.
Yet they won only once in four matches in the 90 minutes in Japan and were left behind when Canada were awarded a penalty after a VAR review.
Dean Rose put Tierna Davidson under pressure and the Canadian spread after a tangle of legs, with the referee pointing to the spot after consulting a pitchside monitor.
Fleming took the resulting penalty ahead of the French, and there would be no return from the Americans – Lloyd’s header clipping the bar in the final minutes as his Olympics ended.