Canada wins CONCACAF Championship
CANCUN, Mexico - Former Whitecaps FC striker Christine Sinclair converted a 54th-minute penalty and Canada beat Mexico 1-0 Monday night to claim its second CONCACAF women's title in the final of the confederation's World Cup qualifying tournament.
Sinclair scored her sixth goal of the tournament after Mexico's Veronica Perez was ejected for a blatant handball, reaching up to push Josee Belanger's shot over the bar during a wild scramble in the penalty area.
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Canada earned its first title since 1998, when it beat Mexico 1-0 in the final in Toronto. It was the only year the United States did not compete, due to its hosting the Women's World Cup in 1999. Canada lost the previous two CONCACAF finals to the United States, both in extra time.
Both Mexico and Canada already had clinched berths in next year's Women's World Cup in Germany by virtue of winning their semifinal matches on Friday.
The United States, which beat Costa Rica in the third-place match earlier Monday, could join them if it beats Italy in a two-leg playoff November 20 and November 27.
Canada had the better of possession and chances until the penalty and Perez's ejection, and then used the extra player to maintain control.
The winner was set up from a corner by Diana Matheson that eventually fell to Sophie Schmidt, whose right-footed effort from 10 meters hit the near post and rebounded to Belanger on the other side of the area. Her shot was headed for the just under the bar, when Perez reached up using both hands to knock the ball over.
Sinclair twice tested Mexican keeper Erika Vanegas before converting the penalty.
Sinclair looped a header from a free kick by Candace-Marie Chapman over Vanegas off the crossbar in the sixth minute.
She also stole the ball from defender Natalie Vinti inside the penalty area in the 21st, dribbled around Natalie Garcia only for Vanegas to push her left-footed shot wide.
Vinti later escaped a foul call against Josee Belanger in the 41st that would have resulted in a penalty, prompting Mexican manager Leo Cuellar to replace her with Alina Garciamendez two minutes later.
Mexico occasionally mounted its own offensive moments, its best when Maribel Dominguez created space on the right side and hit a low left-footed effort that Canadian keeper Karina LeBlanc stooped to block with her knee.
Dominguez - who six goals tied Sinclair for second-most in the tournament behind Abby Wambach's eight -- had Mexico's best chance in the second half as well, outracing Chapman to a through ball and striking a low, right-footed shot that LeBlanc went down to cover.
Canada finished its six games without conceding a goal and outscoring its opponents 17-0.
It was the second victory over Mexico in six days, having beaten the host 3-0 on November 2 in the group phase.