Monterrey (Mexico) (AFP) – The United States eased into the final of the CONCACAF W Championship on Thursday, easing past Costa Rica 3-0 to move within one win of a place at the 2024 Olympics.
Emily Sonnett and Mallory Pugh scored first half goals before Ashley Sanchez added a third in injury time to seal a victory in a semi-final played in sweltering conditions at Monterrey’s Estadio Universitario.
The US women will now face the winner of Thursday’s other semi-final, between Canada and Jamaica in the final.
The winner of the final secures an automatic qualifying berth to the Paris Olympics women’s football tournament.
Against Costa Rica, the world champions took their time before finally asserting their superiority with two first-half goals.
Alex Morgan signalled the US women’s attacking intent early on, missing a golden chance to open the scoring after three minutes when she prodded wide.
Morgan missed another opening after 17 minutes as the US steadily cranked up the pressure.
The breakthrough came in the 34th minute from a corner from the right hand side.
Lindsey Horan’s flick looped up onto the woodwork and from the rebound, Sonnett reacted quickest to jab home from close range.
Morgan had the ball back in the net two minutes later after finishing from Horan’s pass, but the goal was disallowed for offside.
Sophia Smith should have made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time after being played into space by Morgan, but rushed her finish and shot directly at Costa Rica goalkeeper Noella Bermudez.
But the US made it 2-0 moments later when Smith won possession high up the field.
Rose Lavelle’s clever backheel released Pugh and the winger rifled in a low angled shot across Bermudez.
While Olympic qualification will be at stake in next Monday’s final, the eight-team CONCACAF W Championship also doubles as a qualifier for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, with the four semi-finalists – USA, Costa Rica, Canada and Jamaica – all securing tickets to next year’s tournament in Australia.
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