• Sunday Jan 24, 2010

    Costa Rica beats Cuba 3-1 to reach semis

    GUATEMALA CITY - Costa Rica became the third team to reach the semifinals at the CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship on Sunday, capitalizing on uncharacteristic gaffes by Cuban goalkeeper Lucylena Martinez to win 3-1.

    The result gave Costa Rica six points and tied it with Canada atop Group A, pending the unbeaten North Americans' later game against Guatemala. The United States and Mexico secured their places on Saturday.

    Raquel Rodriguez Vasquez scored in the 18th minute, and Daniela Cruz and Ana Aguilar were the beneficiary of Martinez's errors in the 44th and 83rd to give Las Ticas enough to prevail over Cuba, which lost its third straight and was eliminated. Cuba joined fellow Caribbean sides Trinidad and Jamaica, which were eliminated from contention in Group B on Saturday.

    Cruz ran onto a ball 25 meters from goal after a corner kick pinged in the penalty area and was eventually deflected out. Her low strike bounced on the way in, and as Martinez went low to her left to grab it, she misplayed the ball as she was able to get her hands to it but let it slip through.

    The goal gave Costa Rica a 2-1 lead and the Ticas spent much of the second half withstanding several thrusts by Cuba.

    Costa Rica took the lead when Cruz's ball into the area deflected off the head of Yoana Calderon, was headed on by Maria Moreira and bounced once in the penalty area. Rodriguez Vasquez beat a late arriving Martinez to the ball and headed it over her.

    Cuba's Yezenia Gallardo three times in the first half broke free down the right side on balls out of the back, and was able to convert the second one into a goal.

    After shooting wide in the 20th minute, she outraced Marianne Ugalde, before attempting the lay the ball back into the area for an onrushing and unmarked Calderon. But Yocxelin Rodriguez was between them and the cross hit her ankle at the near post, deflecting past goalkeeper Priscilla Tapia for an own goal.

    While Costa Rica had the better possession in the first half, Cuba was the more dominant team in the second half until Aguilar ended the threat. Katherine Alvarado sent a 23-meter free kick into the area that Martinez punched upward. The ball fell at the right post, where Aguilar raced in and touched into the goal.

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