PARCHAL, Portugal — Goals by Janine Beckie and Ashley Lawrence lifted Canada to a 2-0 victory over Japan and fifth place at the 12-team Algarve Cup on Wednesday.
The Canadian women, playing their first tournament under new head coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller, are currently ranked fifth in the world. Japan, runner-up at the 2015 Women's World Cup, is ninth.
"I was definitely very happy with this performance," said Heiner-Moller, who was elevated from assistant coach in January when John Herdman moved over to take charge of the men's program. "I think it's been a tournament where we've been growing into matches after a very rusty start (a 3-1 loss to Sweden). But today was definitely the best performance of this tournament."
"Two beautiful goals and a couple of good (scoring) chances as well," he added. "Against Japan, a very very good Japan, winning 2-0, that's very encouraging for this team."
Beckie, raising her Canada tally to 22 goals in 41 appearances, scored in the 20th minute. Her initial shot, from just inside the far corner of the penalty box, hit a defender but bounced straight back to her. The 23-year-old Sky Blue FC striker made no mistake the second time, firing a right-footed shot into the top right corner.
The 22-year-old Lawrence made it 2-0 in the 50th minute with a superb solo effort, taking the ball off a defender at the edge of the box and then dribbling past another defender and the goalkeeper before slipping the ball into the open net as she lost her balance.
The goal came in Lawrence's 60th appearance for Canada.
Stephanie Labbe saved a penalty in stoppage time.
The game marked the 50th cap for 29-year-old fullback Allysha Chapman. Centre back Kadeisha Buchanan, 22, earned her 75th cap.
Veteran midfielder Diana Matheson, making just her second start for Canada since knee surgery, played 32 minutes as the team looked to ease her back into play.
Canada, second to Sweden in Group B with a 2-1-0 record, was consigned to the fifth-place game after finishing as the second-best runner-up behind Portugal (2-0-1).
The championship game between No. 10 Sweden, the Olympic silver medallist which defeated Rio bronze medallist Canada in their opening game, and seventh-ranked Netherlands was cancelled due to heavy rain. Both teams were awarded first place.
Portugal, ranked 38th, upset No. 4 Australia for third place in a 2-1 win.
Canada was runner-up in 2017 and won the tournament in 2016.
Captain Christine Sinclair scored three goals in preliminary-round play to raise her career tally to 172, just 12 behind retired American Abby Wambach's international record of 184 goals.
The 34-year-old captain from Burnaby, B.C., made her 266th appearance for Canada on Wednesday.
The Canadian women defeated Russia 1-0 and South Korea 3-0 in preliminary-round play.
Canada and Japan last played in a friendly at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver in 2014 when Japan won 3-2 on a stoppage-time goal. It marked Japan's third straight win over the Canadians.
Canada's record against Japan now stands at 4-6-3.
The Canadian women return to Europe to play No. 6 France on April 9 in Rennes, one of the 2019 Women's World Cup venues. Canada will host second-ranked Germany in Hamilton on June 10.
The Canadian Press