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Canada qualifies for FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, rallying against Costa Rica

Substitute Annabelle Chukwu scored twice in extra time Sunday to send Canada to next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup with a 5-3 comeback victory over Costa Rica in the third-place match at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship.

Kayla Briggs dispossessed a Costa Rican defender and Ella Ottey sent in a perfect cross for an unmarked Chukwu to knock home in the 101st minute in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Chukwu had come off the bench to open the second half and had a string of scoring opportunities, hitting the post with one of them before delivering the go-ahead goal.

The 16-year-old from Ottawa added an insurance goal in the 121st minute, curling in a shot past the outstretched Genesis Perez.

The defending champion United States faced Mexico in the championship match later Sunday, with both having already booked their ticket to the World Cup.

The two finalists and third-place side at the eight-team CONCACAF tournament will represent North and Central America and the Caribbean at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Down 3-2, Canada tied it up in the 74th minute with a lunging Olivia Smith poking in a low cross from Briggs before crashing into the goalpost. It was Smith’s fourth goal of the tournament.

Tied 2-2 in the sixth minute of first-half stoppage time, Costa Rica’s Josselyn Briceno scored from a spectacular free kick taken from more than 40 yards out. Canadian ‘keeper Faith Fenwick, who stands five foot seven, got her hands to the dipping moon shot but only managed to deflect the ball into the roof of the goal.

The Canadians had opportunities late in the second half to pull ahead but could not convert.

And there were more scoring opportunities in extra time, with substitute Jaime Perrault’s header flashing wide.

Briceno tried two more long-range shots early in extra time but Fenwick gathered one in and the other flew just high.

Florianne Jourde and Ottey also scored for Canada, which trailed 3-2 at the half.

Smith (two caps) has played for the Canadian senior side. Chukwu and Ottey were called into camp last year but have yet to make their senior debut.

Marian Solano and Sheika Scott also scored for Costa Rica, which fought back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits.

The Canadians had qualified for eight of the 10 previous FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups, missing out in 2010 and 2018. Canada was runner-up to the Americans in 2002 when it hosted the event, which was then an under-19 competition. The U.S. also won the U-20 World Cup in 2008 and 2012.

Costa Rica qualified for the 2014, 2014 and 2022 U-20 World Cups, never making it past the group stage.

It was 30 C, feeling like a steamy 38, for the 12 p.m. local start at Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez. The match paused for hydration breaks in both halves.

Ottey opened the scoring for Canada in the 16th minute. Perez flew through the air, diving to punch a Rosa Maalouf cross away, only to see the ball drop to Ottey, who controlled the ball neatly with her thigh before launching a shot that deflected in off a defender.

Solano tied it up eight minutes later, deftly making room at the edge of the penalty box to escape a defender and curl a left-footed shot that defeated a diving Fenwick.

Canada went ahead in the 27th minute after a pass from Smith, who had a Costa Rican tugging at her jersey, put Jourde behind the defence. The midfielder from St-Hubert, Que., slid a low shot past Perez.

Smith was taken down by Briceno in the Costa Rican penalty box in the 33rd minute, with video review eventually confirming a penalty. But Smith, the Canada captain, slotted the penalty low and wide.

After video review, Costa Rica was awarded a penalty in the 43rd minute after Veronica Matarrita was caught by Clare Logan’s leg as she tried to twist free. Matarrita made the most of the contact, tumbling dramatically to the turf.

Scott made no mistake with the spot kick, finding the corner of the goal in stoppage time to tie the game at 2-2 with her sixth goal of the tournament.

Canada coach Cindy Tye sent on Briggs, Chukwu and Jadea Collin to open the second half.

Canada came into the match with a 4-1-0 edge over Costa Rica in CONCACAF under-20 play with the Canadians winning 3-1 last time out in 2018.

Tye made four opportunities to her starting lineup with Maalouf, Renee Watson, Ella McBride and Nyah Rose slotting in.

The Canadians lost a heartbreaker to Mexico in Friday’s semifinal, beaten 2-1 on a 92nd-minute goal by Alice Soto. Costa Rica was beaten 2-1 by the U.S. in the other semifinal.

Canada concluded runner-up to the U.S. in Group A, downing Jamaica 4-0 and Panama 5-0 before falling 5-2 to the Americans.

Costa Rica was second to Mexico in Group B.

The Canadians lost 1-0 to Mexico in last year’s semifinal at the same venue before blanking Puerto Rico 2-0 to finish third. The U.S. defeated Mexico 2-0 in the final for its seventh CONCACAF crown.

Canada won the CONCACAF tournament in 2004 and 2008, defeating the U.S. both times, and was runner-up to the Americans in 2006, 2012 and 2015.

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