Canada women's soccer moves within one win of Olympic berth after defeating Mexico
Canadians must now overcome Costa Rica on Friday to secure place in Tokyo
Captain Christine Sinclair scored career goal No. 186 to help Canada beat Mexico 2-0 Tuesday and move within one win of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.
The eighth-ranked Canadians (3-0-0) finished atop Group B at the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship and will face Group A runner-up Costa Rica (2-1-0, ranked No. 37) on Friday in a semifinal doubleheader at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. The top-ranked Americans (3-0-0) play No. 26 Mexico (2-1-0) in the other game.
The semifinal winners will represent CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, at the Tokyo Games this summer. Canada has finished runner-up to the U.S. at the last three CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers and is coming off back-to-back bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
WATCH | Sinclair, Zadorsky put Canada on brink of Olympic qualification:
Canada, which is 13-0-0 all-time against Costa Rica, outscored its opposition 22-0 in the three round-robin games.
Shelina Zadorsky also scored for Canada at H-E-B Park.
Sinclair, wearing her bespoke Nike Phantom VNM boots for the first time in a game, returned to the lineup after sitting out Saturday's 9-0 win over No. 51 Jamaica. The 36-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., became the world's all-time leading goal-scorer when she scored goals No. 184 and 185 in Canada's 11-0 tournament-opening win over No. 127 St Kitts and Nevis.
WATCH | Sinclair says she's proud of how her team responded vs. Mexicio:
After having its way with St. Kitts and Jamaica, Canada found Mexico a tougher nut to crack but was always in charge. The Mexicans took no prisoners at times and Rebecca Bernal was lucky to escape with just a yellow card after a scissors tackle on Jessie Fleming in the 21st minute.
Canada went ahead in the 26th minute when an unmarked Sinclair knocked in 19-year-old Jade Riviere's laser-like low cross, capping off a slick 12-pass sequence. A run by Fleming drew a defender away from the Canadian skipper on the play.
It was Sinclair's fourth goal in her last three games — and her 17th all-time against Mexico.
Janine Beckie hammered a shot off the crossbar from distance in the 42nd minute. Then Zadorsky, from a setup by centre-back partner Kadeisha Buchanan off a Beckie corner, made it 2-0 in stoppage time with a shot through traffic. It was the second goal in 62 internationals for the centre back.
Canada had 63 per cent of the possession in the first half, outshooting Mexico 5-2 (2-1 in shots on target).
Mexico's first real chance came in the 53rd minute when substitute Kiana Palacios' shot was palmed wide by Stephanie Labbe.
Here's another look at Labbé's huge diving stop! <br><br>🇨🇦2-0🇲🇽<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CANWNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CANWNT</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CWOQ?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CWOQ</a> <a href="https://t.co/y1kNr6g8lA">pic.twitter.com/y1kNr6g8lA</a>—@CanadaSoccerEN
Sinclair gave way to Jordyn Huitema in the 66th minute. The 18-year-old Huitema scored five goals against Jamaica and one against St. Kitts.
Labbe had to make another save in the 76th on a deflected shot by Daniela Espinosa. At the other end, substitute Rebecca Quinn and Nichelle Prince both shot high.
Mexican goalkeeper Emily Alvarado made back-to-back stops on Huitema and Prince in stoppage time.
Fleming, Prince and Gabby Carle also moved into the Canadian starting 11. Star midfielder Ashley Lawrence, who limped off the field in the Jamaica game, came on as a sub to start the second half.
Canada extended its unbeaten streak against Mexico to 14 games (12-0-2) while improving its career record against the Mexicans to 22-1-2.
The one loss in the series was costly. Mexico's 2-1 win in 2004 prevented Canada from going to the Athens Games.