ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – Maria Paula Salas scored late to give Costa Rica (1W-0D-1L, 3 points) a 3-2 win over 10-player Jamaica (0W-0D-2L, 0 points) in the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship on Sunday at the Grenada National Stadium.
With the result, the Costa Ricans are tied temporarily atop the Group B table with the United States (1W-0D-0L, 3 points) and Mexico (1W-0D-0L, 3 points), which will meet later in the day.
The game-winning goal came in the first minute of second-half stoppage time on a cleverly worked free kick. From just above the semicircle, the Gloriana Villalobos appeared to take aim on the net. Rather than shoot, however, she slipped a wonderful pass into the path of Salas, who cut from the left in front of her defender. With remarkable composure, the 14-year-old received the ball with her left foot and beat stranded goalkeeper Sydney Schneider with her right from eight-yards out. It was the first time the Ticas held a lead in the game and the tournament.
Jamaica twice took one-goal leads.
Ebony Clarke put the Caribbean champion ahead 1-0 in the 22nd minute, intercepting an errant Costa Rican backpass and racing into the right side of the box, before powering a high right-footed shot off the hands of Schneider into the net.
Costa Rica was on level terms seven minutes later, when Valeria Del Campo converted from the penalty spot after Villalobos was fouled in the box by Erin Mikalsen.
In the 34th minute, Jamaica regained the lead as Tarania Clarke’s first-timed, right-footed effort off a pass from Ebony Clarke sailed over goalkeeper Akira Rubi and just under the crossbar.
The dismissal of Alyssa Julien in the 70th minute for a second yellow card proved key for Costa Rica, which capitalized by striking for the game’s last two goals.
Merilyn Alvarado equalized in the 76th minute, heading home Villalobos’ left-sided corner kick from four-yards out at far post and paving the way for Salas’ eventual heroics.
Costa Rica will complete group play on Tuesday against the U.S., while Jamaica will meet Mexico.