Canada 3 Costa Rica 1
WINNIPEG — Jessie Fleming got Canada rolling with a goal in the third minute as the national women’s soccer team defeated underdog Costa Rica 3-1 in an international friendly on Thursday.
The victory upped Canada’s overall record against Costa Rica to 11-0, with the squads meeting again Sunday in Toronto at BMO Field.
Captain Christine Sinclair scored on a penalty kick for the fifth-ranked Canadians and Adriana Leon scored late, while No. 30 Costa Rica got a goal from Diana Saenz.
Most of the announced crowd of 14,434 at Investors Group Field sported red-and-white shirts and got to cheer early with 19-year-old Fleming’s quick goal.
Fleming took a lead pass from Sinclair and put the ball in the upper right side over goalkeeper Noelia Bermudez. Prior to the game, Fleming was presented with her Canada Soccer U-20 women’s 2016 player of the year award.
Sinclair had the crowd groaning 10 minutes later when her header off a pass from Ashley Lawrence went wide of the net.
Costa Rica didn’t get its first shot on goal until the 27th minute, but it was a long ball by Cristin Granados that ‘keeper Stephanie Labbe caught standing up.
The vast majority of the play in the first half was in Costa Rica’s end, with Lawrence having a pair of kicks go over the bar.
Sinclair made it 2-0 on a penalty shot in the 52nd minute after teammate Janine Beckie was fouled. It was the veteran’s 168th career goal.
Two minutes later Costa Rica converged in front of Canada’s net, but the defence held.
That didn’t last long as Winnipeg’s Desiree Scott gave the ball away on a pass attempt in front of Costa Rica’s goal. A visitor’s shot then bounced off the goal post and Saenz scored to make it 2-1 in the 56th minute.
Leon had a number of good chances to extend the lead before her goal, but Bermudez came out and stopped her, then Leon couldn’t get her foot on a pass across the front of the net and then she missed the net.
She finally made a kick count and the game ended after four minutes of stoppage time.