Canada moves within a victory of London 2012 Olympics
Canada moved within one victory of the London 2012 Olympics with a 5-1 win over Costa Rica on Monday, jumping ahead of the Ticas in the sixth minute on the first of two goals by former Whitecaps FC striker Christine Sinclair and dominating the rest of the way. Fellow 'Caps alums Sophie Schmidt and Kaylyn Kyle also registered goals for Canada.
Sinclair's goals gave her 127 in her career, one behind retired German Birgit Prinz for fourth-most in women's soccer history. Mia Hamm holds the record with 158 followed by fellow Americans Kristine Lilly (130) and Abby Wambach (129).
The result assured Canada of facing the runner-up from Group B - either the United States or Mexico - in Friday's semifinals, the winners of which will qualify for the Olympics. Despite the loss, Costa Rica finished second in Group A and will play the Group B winner in the other semifinal.
The United States has won both of its games in the CONCACAF qualifying finals by a combined 27-0 and will play Mexico for the Group B title on Tuesday.
Canada pressed and controlled from the opening kickoff with Costa Rica struggling to manage any possession in the offensive third for the first half, and unable to get a shot until one by Raquel Rodriguez in the 70th minute.
Costa Rica was hampered by the loss of midfielder Katherine Alvarado, who suffered a concussion against Haiti on Saturday, and Daniela Cruz, unavailable due to a knee injury.
Although Costa Rica started the second half better, its fortunes were further doomed by an own-goal in the 50th minute that extended Canada's lead to 5-0.
Standing with the ball at the top her own penalty area, Costa Rica defender Marianne Ugalde was hesitant to move upfield. She turned without challenge and played a slow ball to goalkeeper Juliet Arias, who appeared set to trap the ball with the sole of her right foot - only to look away and have the ball roll past her into the goal.
Sinclair started Canada's night, controlling Rhian Wilkinson's cross into the penalty area with her thigh and then volleying the ball with her the tip of her right foot to knock it in. Costa Rican defender Fabiola Sanchez tried to swat the ball away with her left hand, only to slightly change its direction but not stop it and earning a yellow card in the process.
Canada, which beat Haiti 6-0 and Cuba 2-0 last week, doubled the lead in the 10th minute when Schmidt tapped in a loose ball after Kelly Parker worked her way to the byline and put a ball across the face of goal that Arias knocked down but could not control.
Sinclair set up the third, running onto a ball on the right side of the penalty area, turning and delivering a curling left-footed ball to the back post, where Kyle ran onto it and headed it in from inside the six.
Sinclair then added her second in the 45th, chesting down Wilkinson's cross and finishing with a right-footed volley.
Costa Rica finally ended Canada's shutout streak in the 89th. Shirley Cruz lofted a cross-field pass from the right that Canada defender Robyn Gayle misjudged and let sail over her head.
Second-half substitute Fernanda Barrantes settled with one touch and closed within eight meters before shooting past Canada keeper Karina LeBlanc.
The victory was Canada's ninth in as many meetings with Costa Rica, increasing its aggregate goal total to 30-3.