Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Canada Women defeat Mexico to top Group A

Canada finished first in Group A following a comprehensive 3:0 victory over Mexico on Tuesday 2 November, thus moving one win away from a spot at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™. The Canadian squad will now face Costa Rica in one of two semi-final matches on Friday 5 November, knowing that a victory will qualify it for Germany 2011.

Candace Chapman and Josée Bélanger fired Canada into a 2-0 half time lead and Jonelle Filigno added a third midway through the second half to complete the scoring for Canada as it dominated a Mexican side that was expected to present the most difficult challenge in Group A play. Playing in front of a large and boisterous crowd at the Estadio Beto Ávila in Cancún, Mexico, Canada’s well prepared squad enjoyed a territorial advantage throughout the match.

"It was not easy to win this match in a stadium full of support and enthusiasm for the home team," said Canadian national head coach Carolina Morace. "I think we prepared very well as a team and we attacked Mexico. The players were fantastic."

The match, which kicked off in pouring rain, started at a high tempo with both teams understanding the importance of finishing first in Group A and avoiding the powerful USA side in the semi-finals.

In the opening 15 minutes Canada struggled to find the smooth passing game it had featured against Guyana due to the difficult conditions and feisty Mexican defenders. Mexico was paying a price for its physical defence and was repeatedly penalized for fouls on the Canadian attackers.
Canada was looking dangerous from its many free kicks and corners and it was from a corner that Chapman fired Canada into a 20th minute lead. Diana Matheson delivered the cross which fell to Chapman who had advanced from her centre back role and she made no mistake blasting the ball into the roof of the goal.

Melissa Tancredi came close to adding to the Canadian lead just two minutes later as her hard drive across goal had to be tipped over the bar by Cecilia Santiago in the Mexican goal.

Bélanger doubled the Canadian advantage in first half added time to cap an excellent opening 45 minutes for Canada. Mexican goalkeeper Santiago bobbled the ball with Sinclair bearing down and the Canadian captain was alert to dig the ball out of the scrum at her feet and feed Bélanger at the top of the penalty area. Bélanger calmly chipped her shot over the Mexican defenders struggling to get back into position and into the empty goal.
Mexico enjoyed its best period of the match at the start of the second half as its attacking with purpose forcing Canada onto the back foot for the first time in the match. The Canadians quickly rallied and rode out the early pressure as Coach Morace made some small adjustments to the Canadian formation to get more players behind the ball.

Canada’s third goal was a wonderful team effort converted by second half substitute Jonelle Filigno. The Canadian forward was picked out by an inch-perfect cross from Bélanger, heading home from the penalty spot. Sinclair and Matheson combined well in the build-up to goal as they worked the ball out to Bélanger in space on the right for the 66th minute marker. Filigno has been a “super-sub” at the competition scoring all three of her goals off the bench.

Coach Carolina Morace’s starting line-up against Mexico featured Karina LeBlanc in goal, Marie-Eve Nault, Candace Chapman, Sophie Schmidt, and Rhian Wilkinson left to right across the back line, Kaylyn Kyle, Carmelina Moscato, and Diana Matheson in midfield and Josée Belanger, Melissa Tancredi, and Christine Sinclair in attack. Second half substitutions saw Tancredi replaced by Filigno in the 54th minute, Bélanger replaced by Desiree Scott in the 68th minute, and Kyle make way for Chelsea Stewart in the 78th minute.

Canada, whose title sponsor is Winners and presenting sponsor is Teck, will now prepare for its semi-final showdown with Costa Rica on Friday 5 November. In the other semi-final, Mexico will face USA for the second automatic qualification spot at Germany 2011. The tournament final as well as the third place match will be played on Monday 8 November. The two finalists automatically qualify for the World Cup while the third place finisher will play Italy in a home and home series with the winner also advancing to the FIFA Women’s World Cup. All of Canada’s matches can be seen live on CBC Bold and CBCsports.ca. In addition, all matches played at the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifiers can be seen live online at CONCACAF.com

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