Canada qualifies for World Cup
CANCUN, Mexico - Canada qualified for the Women's World Cup for a fifth consecutive time, beating Costa Rica 4-0 Friday on a quartet of second-half goals to earn a trip to Germany next year.
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Strikes by Josee Belanger, Jonelle Filigno, Christine Sinclair and an extra time own-goal helped send Canada to Monday's title game in CONCACAF Women's World Cup Qualifying against Mexico, which beat the the United States in Friday's other semifinal 2-1.
Canada will try to win its second women's confederation championship and first since 1998, when it defeated Mexico. It has faced the United States in the final three times previously, losing each time, including 2002 and 2006 in extra time.
Costa Rica will have another chance to make the Germany 2011 field. It will face the United States in the third-place match on Monday. The winner of the consolation match will play Italy, the fifth-place finisher in European qualifying, for another berth.
Belanger's goal in the 62nd minute ended more than an hour of frustration for the Canadians and the tallies by former Whitecaps FC players Filigno and Sinclair in the next 13 minutes ended any thoughts of a Costa Rican rally.
Sinclair, who scored four goals in Canada's 8-0 victory over Guyana in the first round, was key in the breakthrough. She sprinted free around the defense on the right and laid a ball into the path of Filigno, whose initial shot was blocked by the legs of Costa Rican keeper Dinnia Diaz.
But the rebound fell at the feet of Belanger, who converted from just outside the six for her second of the tournament.
Filigno scored one of her own in the 72nd when a free kick from the Canadian half deflected off teammate Christine Julien in a crowd at the 18 and rebounded to her in the middle of the area. With Costa Rican players appealing for an offside call, Filigno easily finished with no one to challenge her.
"We're really thrilled and excited," Filigno said. "We exepected it but knew it would be a big challenge to get here. We were a little down at halftime, but picked it up in the second half."
Sinclair then added to the contribution in the 75th. Diaz punched Diana Matheson's corner kick to the middle of the area, where Sinclair was waiting and volleyed into the corner of the net.
Costa Rica completed its disappointing night when Rhian Wilkinson again found space on the right, getting to the byline before sending a cross through the goal box that Daniela Cruz tried to clear with a swinging left leg, only to have the ball strike her right leg and bound into the goal.
Canada put Costa Rica on the defensive from the opening kickoff. Filigno, who came off the bench in all three first-round matches and scored three goals as a substitute, was paired with Sinclair up front and was very active early.
She had one shot blocked inside the penalty area and twice put headers wide in the first 13 minutes.
Sinclair had the best chance of the first 45 minutes, hitting a right-footed shot from 12 meters that Diaz had to leap to her right to push around the left post.
Costa Rica struggled to get and maintain possession, putting only one shot on goal in the first half that Canadian keeper Karina LeBlanc handled with ease.
Canada repeatedly wasted chances, with Whitecaps FC midfielder Kaylyn Kyle, Sinclair and Belanger putting shots high from inside the penalty area, while numerous others were thwarted by blocks in front of Diaz's goal.
Canada advanced to the final having outscored it four opponents 15-0 in four matches.