US stunned as Mexico, Canada qualify

Canada booked their place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 with a 4-0 win over Costa Rica while the USA will have to play a waiting game after losing their semi-final to qualifying hosts Mexico.

Canada dominated the first half of the early game in Cancun with Josee Belanger, Jonelle Filigno, Kaylyn Kyle and Christine Sinclair all enjoying decent attempts on goal. Filigno proved a constant thorn down the right flank and was responsible for Canada’s first attempt on goal, which came after only four minutes. Rhian Wilkinson fired a cross into the box and 20-year-old Filigno made a strong run to near post, skipping between two defenders and sending a lunging header just wide of goal.

We expected 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.
Jonelle Filigno of Canada

The best chance of the first half fell to a familiar face however. At 26 minutes, captain Christine Sinclair fired a left-footed volley on target only to be denied by a sensational save from Costa Rica's Dinnia Diaz. The Costa Rica No1 would be called upon time and time again in the first half to deny the encroaching Canadian attack. The half almost came to a close in surprising fashion as a long-range effort from Venegas sent Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc - who had been a spectator for much of the first half - scrambling as she watched the ball rocket past the far post.

Costa Rica started the second-half with a sense of purpose that was lacking in the first. Las Ticas had two chances in the first two minutes of the second-half, putting the Canadians on the back foot for the next 15 minutes. The deadlock was finally broken after 61 minutes with Josee Belanger scoring. Sinclair cut a short ball back to Filigno whose shot was saved by Diaz, but Belanjer latched onto the deflection to side-foot past the goalkeeper.

As the rain began to fall 20 minutes into the second-half, Jonelle Filigno snuck behind a flat defensive line to latch onto a free-kick - lobbed all the way from the halfway line - and place the ball past the Costa Rica No1. Moments later, Sinclair took her tournament tally to five goals with the third goal of the game. A defensive error sealed Costa Rica’s nightmare as Rhian Wilkinson sent an uncontested cross into the box only to see it deflected into the goal. "We're really thrilled and excited," Filigno said. "We expected 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."

Mexico shock the States
Despite the loss, Costa Rica’s hopes of a first-ever qualification for a FIFA Women's World Cup are still alive. But they will have to beat the USA, who lost out 2-1 to hosts Mexico in the later semi-final. With the Americans heavily fancied heading into the game, their neighbours to the south signaled their intent with just three minutes gone, captain Maribel Dominguez getting on the end of a fine pass from Lydia Rangel to make it 1-0 to the home side.

The two-time world champion US managed to draw level after 25 minutes, thanks to the dogged Carli Lloyd who poked home a fine in-swinging cross from Karen Rapinoe. The celebrations lasted only two minutes, however, as the Mexicans hit back to make it 2-1 when Veronica Perez slotted home a fine bit of service from Juana Lopez.

The Stars and Stripes piled on the pressure in the second half but despite creating a raft of chances, they were unable to draw level for a second time as the Mexicans raucously celebrated their famous victory - a first against their northern rivals - at the final whistle. The USA will play Costa Rica on 8 November, with the winner earning the right to square off with Italy (the fifth-place finisher from European qualifying) for the final place at Germany 2011.