Canada (pictured) celebrates after defeating Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship semifinals on February 19, 2016, in Houston, Texas. (Photo: Mexsport)
HOUSTON – Christine Sinclair scored twice to lift Canada to a 3-1 victory over Costa Rica in the 2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship semifinals on Friday to clinch its third consecutive spot in the Olympic Games.
Deanne Rose added a late insurance goal at BBVA Compass Stadium for the winner, while Raquel Rodriguez Cedeño converted a penalty kick for Costa Rica.
The United States and Trinidad & Tobago will square off later in the evening to determine Canada’s opposition in Sunday’s final.
Sinclair, who raised her international goal total to 161, has scored six times in CWOQ play against Costa Ricans, recording a brace in each of three outings.
Canada drew first blood in the 17th minute. Josee Belanger lofted a cross from the right flank that bounced once before Sinclair chested it down eight yards out and slotted it past goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz. It was Belanger’s tournament-best fourth assist.
Sinclair produced some magic on her second goal in the 52nd minute. After a modest clearance by defender Carol Sanchez, the veteran striker turned and raised the ball with her right foot for a self-made volley that she rifled with her left foot off the inside of the crossbar and into the net for a two-goal advantage.
Costa Rica ratcheted up the attack as Melissa Herrera forced Canada goalkeeper Erin McLeod into a 69th minute.
Rodriguez Cedeño pulled one back for the Central American side, converting a penalty in the 72nd minute after Desiree Scott tripped Saenz in the area.
In the 85th minute, Canada earned some breathing room. Nichelle Prince made a run into the right side of the box and passed left for Rose to bundle into the net from the edge of the six yard box for her third goal of the tournament.