GUATEMALA CITY -- Jorge Arias scored three goals and Costa Rica qualified for this year's FIFA Futsal World Cup with a 7-1 rout of St. Kitts & Nevis in a CONCACAF Futsal Championship encounter on Wednesday at the Domo Polideportivo.
In addition to securing a place in Thailand, the win also means that Costa Rica advances to the CONCACAF semifinals as one of the top two teams from Group B.The final group positions will be determined after Cuba meets Mexico later today.
"We played well today with all my teammates and we dedicate this to all of Costa Rica that rooted us on, our families and the entire group of coaches that supported us during this tournament," said Costa Rica's Michael Cordoba, who scored the game's first goal."It is a pleasure to be part of this group."
The Ticos were dominant throughout and Cordoba opened their goal account in the 9th minute, slotting home a picture-perfect cross from the right by Aaron Jerez.
After Jose Guevara doubled Costa Rica's advantage a minute later, Jason Lake scored St. Kitts & Nevis' only goal of the game in the 13th minute.
The Central Americans, however, replied quickly and regained the two-goal cushion thanks to a 16th minute own-goal by Javeim Blanchette, who diverted a cross past goalkeeper Byron Akil.
Three minutes before the break, Arias claimed the first of his three goals.
Costa Rica started the second half as strong as it competed in the first.
In the 24th minute, the outstanding Jerez dribbled down the middle before laying off a pass to Arias on the left.The 28-year-old made no mistake with an emphatic finish from close range.Jerez would get a goal of his own in the 32nd minute, while Arias completed his hat-trick with a strike one minute before the final whistle.
Cuba 1, Mexico 5
Mexico clinched its first trip to the Futsal World Cup, beating Cuba 5-1 on Wednesday to qualify for the FIFA event and advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF championship.
With the result, the Tricolor and Costa Rica finished level at seven points atop the CONCACAF Futsal Championship's Group B standings.The Central Americans, however, claimed first place on goal difference.Both teams must wait for the completion of Group A play tonight to discover their next opponents.
From the flow of the game's opening moments, it was difficult to imagine that Mexico would win by such a convincing score.Both teams appeared ready for an epic CONCACAF futsal battle, but the Tricolor got on the scoreboard first.
Ramon Raya's squad bolted ahead in the 6th minute.Morgan Plata scored with a deft left-footed touch off a pass from the lively Miguel Limon.
Two minutes later, Carlos Ramirez extended Mexico's advantage, taking the ball at midcourt, driving forward and beating Cuban goalkeeper Wilfredo Carbo for his second goal of the tournament.
The Caribbean side fought back and was rewarded for its persistence, when Eduardo Morales tapped in from close range after Mexican goalkeeper Alonso Saavedra dropped a ball in front of his own net.
Following the break, with everything to play for, the players emerged from their locker rooms in determined moods.
A goal by Mexico's Diego Estanislao in the 26th minute, though, hit at the heart of Cuba's resolve.Ramirez dribbled straight up the middle and slipped a pass to a waiting Estanislao on the left, who needed only a single touch to find the back of the next
Adrian Gonzalez and Giovanni Lopez netted goals in the 35th and 36th minutes, respectively, giving Mexico all the insurance it would need in order to book its journey to Thailand.
For Cuba, its run of four-consecutive runner-up finishes in the competition came to an end and it was the most goals it conceded in a CONCACAF futsal game since a 7-3 loss to United States in the 1996 final.