Mexico celebrates after scoring in its 3-1 win over Costa Rica in a 2014 CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship semifinal on January 17, 2014, in George Town, Cayman Islands. (Photo: Mexsport)
Player of the Match presented by CONCACAF’s Technical Study Group: Karla Nieto (Mexico)
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – Mexico broke a half-time stalemate by scoring two goals in the second half to defeat Costa Rica 3-1 on Friday and advance to the final of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, as well as earn a ticket to the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
The Tricolor, which qualified for its sixth World Cup in seven attempts, will contest the tournament final on Sunday against the winner of the second semifinal later in the evening between the two-time defending champion United States and Trinidad & Tobago. Costa Rica will square off against the looser in the match for third place to decide the confederation’s last qualifier for the FIFA event in Canada.
On a rainy afternoon at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, Fabiola Ibarra broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 67th minute, exquisitely firing a left-footed free kick from 30-yards out on the right wing over goalkeeper Mariela Vasquez.
Six minutes later, Jessica Valadez netted an insurance goal. Vasquez punched away a Jazmin Aguas corner kick, only to see the ball head straight to Valadez, who left-footed it home from eight-yards.
In two all-time CONCACAF Under-20 meetings, Mexico had not beaten Costa Rica outright. Early on, the Central Americans looked like continuing that streak as Melissa Herrera crashed a left-sided corner kick off the far post in stunning fashion.
On their next solid chance, however, the Ticas would go ahead. Shortly after Mexico goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago bobbled a long-distance effort by Gloriana Villalobos, Jazmin Elizondo struck. The imposing Krista Chavarria shrugged off a defender as she dribbled down the left wing and crossed beautifully for the 19-year-old forward to bounce a header into the back of the net.
In the 32nd minute, Paloma Zermeño leveled the score with what was arguably the goal of the tournament. Paulina Solis delivered a diagonal cross from the left wing towards Zermeño, who gained separation from her marker and moved towards the pass. The 18-year-old then instinctively flicked the ball with the outside of her right foot into the back of the net.
With two minutes left in the opening half, Mexico’s Jaqueline Rodriguez sent a right-sided cross over everyone to a waiting Carolina Jaramillo. The forward had time, but could not get enough power on the shot, ultimately rolling the ball into Vasquez’s hands.
The 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup will be held in Canada, August 5-24.