MANCHESTER, England (AP) - Christine Sinclair came away from perhaps the greatest performances of her life feeling mainly anger and bitterness.
Sinclair scored three goals in a 4-3 loss against two-time defending champion United States in the semifinals of the women's Olympic football tournament, but was left fuming over what she said was bad refereeing mistakes that helped the Americans rally for the win.
"We are disappointed and upset," she said. "We felt that the referee took it away from us. We feel like we didn't lose, we feel like it was taken from us. It's a shame in a game like that, which is so important, that the ref decided the result before the game started."
The Canadians were particularly upset about a rare indirect free kick called by referee Christiana Pedersen of Norway against goalkeeper Erin McLeod for holding the ball for more than six seconds inside the box. That free kick resulted in a penalty when Pedersen then whistled for a handball, which allowed Abby Wambach to make it 3-3 from the spot in the 80th.
"We feel cheated," Sinclair said.
Sinclair gave the Canadians the lead three times, netting in the 22nd, 67th and 73rd minutes at Old Trafford. But the Americans came back each time, and Alex Morgan then headed in the winner in the final moments of extra time.
"To score three goals like that, that's a moment in Canadian sporting history," Canada coach John Herdman said. "That's special. I don't know how many times she's done that before or how many other athletes have done something of that magnitude against all odds really."
Even Sinclair's opponents were impressed.
"What a wonderful player," U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. "Scoring goals in a semifinal, and the way she scored the goals as well. She is a very good player and was a handful for our defenders. Our defense is pretty good but she scored three goals, it tells you how good she is."
U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe added: "Sinclair is unbelievable. She's definitely one of the best players in the world, one of the best players ever. She had a brilliant game, she's the heart of the Canadian team and I'm sure she's crushed. We were joking in the dressing room about scoring a hat trick and then losing 4-3."
Indeed, the goals meant little, as Canada remained without a win against its North American rival in 11 years. Canada was trying to reach its first Olympic final.
With the three goals on Monday, Sinclair tied Abby Wambach as the second-best international scorer all-time with 143 goals, behind Mia Hamm's world record of 158.
"We play the Americans a lot and I have had a few chances," she said. "For me, there is something about playing the best team in the world that brings out the best from me."
Now she wants to take her anger and frustrations out on France in the bronze-medal game on Thursday.
"Maybe the referee will wear a Canadian jersey for this game. I wouldn't want to be the team that plays us next," the 29-year-old forward said. "Even with this result, knowing that we are not playing for gold."
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