Thanks to some stingy defensive play and a high-powered offence, Canada has clinched a spot at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Josee Belanger, Jonelle Filigno, and Christine Sinclair scored in the second half to lift Canada to a 4-0 win over Costa Rica on Friday in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women's World Cup qualifying tournament in Cancun, Mexico.
Canada will compete in its fifth consecutive Women's World Cup, scheduled for next summer in Germany.
With World Cup qualification secured, Canada's next order of business is Monday's CONCACAF tournament final (CBC Bold, CBCSports.ca, 9 p.m. ET) where it faces Mexico.
Mexico upsets U.S.
Mexico beat the United States in one of the biggest upsets in the history of women's soccer, a 2-1 victory Friday night on goals by Maribel Dominguez and Veronica Perez that qualified the Mexicans for next year's World Cup.
Carli Lloyd scored for the United States, which is in danger of missing the Women's World Cup for the first time.
The Americans, the 1991 and 1999 champions, must beat Costa Rica on Monday in the third-place playoff of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, then win a home-and-home playoff with Italy, the No. 5 team in European qualifying, to reach next year's tournament in Germany.
— Associated Press
"We were anxious, we continued to make mistakes, but in the second half after we scored the first goal, all was easy," said Canadian coach Carolina Morace. "I told the players at halftime we were able to score five goals just in the second half, and they scored four goals. And we dominated the game."
Amazingly, Canada has won all four of its games at this CONCACAF competition, outscoring the opposition by a whopping 16-0 margin.
"I think that what we showed here in Mexico is extraordinary," Morace said. "We played well, we maintained possession, and I think the people here, we received many congratulations, including from the Mexican people. When Canada played, the people enjoyed to watch our game."
Costa Rica kept a surging Canadian attack off the scoreboard in the first half thanks to some resolute defending.
Midfielder Kaylyn Kyle had a glorious opportunity to score in the opening minutes, only to see her effort on goal blocked by a Costa Rican player.
Sinclair's curling shot in the 26th minute appeared to be headed for the far corner. Costa Rica goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz had other ideas, though, making a fantastic diving save to push the ball around the post.
After repelling countless Canadian attacks throughout the opening 45 minutes, Costa Rica mounted some offensive pressure of its own at the start of the second half. Maria Barrantes snuck in behind the Canadian defence in the 47th minute, but mishit a close-range shot wide of the post.
Costa Rica poured on the pressure before Canada finally broke the deadlock thanks to a great effort from Sinclair. The Canadian captain made a bursting run into the box, and Diaz made a great save on Filigno, but Belanger was there to slam home the rebound.
The goal was Belanger's second of the tournament.
Filigno made it 2-0 for Canada just 10 minutes later, scoring from inside the box, although the midfielder appeared to be offside on the play.
Sinclair put the game out of reach in the 75th minute when she scored her fifth goal of the competition.
Canada added a fourth goal in injury time, as Rhian Wilkinson's shot deflected into the net off a Costa Rican defender.
Canada has enjoyed great success against Costa Rica, winning all seven of its matches against the Central American nation dating back to 1991.
Canada has outscored Costa Rica 22-1 in the series.