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GUATEMALA CITY - Joel Campbell scored the first of two penalties in less than three minutes - the start of a three-goal performance, sparking defending champion Costa Rica to a 6-1 victory over Cuba on Tuesday that sent the Ticos to the Under-20 World Cup for the third straight time.
The win also moved Costa Rica into the semifinals of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, getting it within a victory of a chance to retain its confederation title.
Cuba's loss eliminated the last of five Caribbean sides from the championship, following Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad.
Campbell and Mynor Escoe Miller converted their penalties in the 29th and 32nd minutes, overcoming Yaudel Lahera's strike in the third minute. Campbell scored twice more in the second half and Bryan Vega and Joshua Diaz Azofeifa also added tallies to complete the rout for Costa Rica.
Costa Rica, which hadn't allowed a goal in its first two games of the tournament, fell behind early despite taking the initiative from the opening kickoff and getting two shots in the first 63 seconds.
But Cuba quickly replied, creating a chance that it failed to convert when Lahera let a rolling cross go through his legs without touch on the edge of the six in the second minute.
Lahera atoned for the miscue less than a minute later. Maikel Chang laterally lofted a ball across the top of the penalty area and between defenders Joseph Mora and Ariel Soto, volleying the bouncing ball with his right foot from 12 meters past helpless goalkeeper Mauricio Vargas.
The goal was reminiscent of the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in February, when Costa Rica was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Panama, which like Cuba had not scored in either of its first-round group matches.
Costa Rica began to dominate possession and chances, with Cuba countering effectively to expose gaps in the Tico defense.
Campbell, who shared the tournament scoring lead coming into the match with three goals, appealed for a penalty in the 23rd when Over Urgelles lunged to knock away a ball and took down the Costa Rican forward in the process.
Barbadian referee ignored the pleas, but did award a spot kick fix minutes later when Dario Macias brought down Campbell with an extended right leg as the Costa Rican tried to dribble across the top of the area.
Campbell converted and three minutes later it was Escoe's turn.
Esocoe jumped to get his head on a cross, but was knocked down by Dayron Blanco, and Escoe converted for a 2-1.
The second half was all Costa Rica, with Vega increasing the lead in the 51st, Campbell scoring in the 58th and 87th minutes and Diaz Azofeifa adding his in the 75th.
Campbell wasted a chance for a fourth, putting a penalty kick off the crossbar in the 79th.
Costa Rica, which finished fourth at the 2009 U-20 World Cup, will face either the United States or Guatemala, which were to play Wednesday.