Espinosa lifts Mexico past Costa Rica in CU17W
Daniela Espinosa (green jersey) scored two goals in Mexico's win over Costa Rica in a CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship match on March 4, 2016, in St. George's, Grenada. (Photo: Mexsport)

ST.GEORGE’S, Grenada – A two-goal, one assist performance by Daniela Espinosa lifted Mexico to a 4-2 win over Costa Rica as Group B play in the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship opened on Friday at the Grenada National Stadium.

The win extended the defending champion’s unbeaten streak in the competition to seven games and provisionally lifted it into first place. Jamaica and the United States will meet later in the day to complete the doubleheader.

Dayana Cazares played a critical role in helping Mexico jump out to a 2-0 lead.

In the third minute, she slipped a splendid pass into the right side of the Costa Rican box for Montserrat Hernandez, who deposited a left-footed shot into the net from 13-yards out.

In the 19th minute, Cazares first-timed with her right foot a touch pass from Espinosa past goalkeeper Akira Rubi from 12 yards.

Costa Rica would eventually knot the score at 2-2 thanks to the impressive Gloriana Villalobos – a veteran of the recently completed CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.

Her right-footed free kick from 23-yards out curled around the wall and off the hands of diving goalkeeper Miriam Aguirre, before landing inside the right post.

Villalobos leveled in the 62nd minute, taking a pass from Maria Salas nearly 30-yards from goal and dribbling powerfully into the left side of the box. Then, while falling, the 16-year-old fired a left-footed shot into the left side of the net.

Mexico regained control of the match late, paving the way for Espinosa’s heroics.

A left-sided corner kick by Hernandez was finely touched by Kimberly Rodriguez into the direction of Espinosa. Without hesitation, the 16-year-old forward swept the ball in with her right foot from seven yards, neatly avoiding defender Stephanie Blanco’s attempt to deny the effort.

Espinosa struck for an insurance goal with two minutes left in normal time, knocking in the rebound of Rodriguez’s blocked header.