• Saturday Feb 23, 2013

    Canada U20s defeat Nicaragua to advance

    PUEBLA, Mexico - Caleb Clarke scored two goals and Canada defeated 10-man Nicaragua on Friday to secure second-place in Group B, setting up a CONCACAF Under-20 Championship quarterfinal showdown against the United States.

    Though both the Canadians and Nicaraguans lost to Cuba earlier in the competition, the North American side bounced back more sharply at the Estadio Universitario BUAP in a battle for the last available place in the knockout phase. The Cubans had already claimed first-place in Group B.

    Samuel Piette set the tone for the impressive performance in the 6th minute, when he thumped in a right-footed effort from nearly 25-yards out off a neat assist from John Dollery to give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead..

    Twenty-one minutes later, Clarke netted his first goal by getting the slightest of touches on a low corner kick from Ben Fisk and directing the ball inside the far post.

    With things going completely Canada's way, it gained an even more important advantage seven minutes before the break. Nicaragua's Cristiam Gutierrez was issued a second caution for handling a shot by Fisk in the penalty area. His ejection forced the Pinoleros to play a man down for the rest of the game.

    Mauro Eustaquio converted the ensuing penalty kick to make the score 3-0, effectively ending the game.

    "We got the result we wanted in the first half," said Canada head coach Nick Dasovic. "When we went up 3-0 and they went down to 10 men they were up against it.

    "Our boys did well to capitalize on the opportunities we created."

    Nicaragua was able to slice into deficit at the stroke of half-time, as Eulises Pavon tallied on a penalty kick after Piette was whistled for committing a foul in the box.

    Any feeling of hope that the Central American side may have derived from that goal dissipated eight minutes into the second half. Clarke realized his brace, one-timing a cross from Dollery past Nicaraguan goalkeeper Pablo Cuadra.

    Substitute Ben McKendry made it 5-1 in the 63rd minute to complete the rout.

    While Nicaragua returns home with two losses in two games, Canada will prepare for an encounter against the United States on Tuesday. The winner of that game automatically qualifies for the FIFA U-20 World Cup later this year in Turkey.

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