Canada stop Costa Rica

Published on 26 July 2021

Junior Hoilett scored in the 18′ to give Canada an early lead en route to a 2-0 victory over Costa Rica in their Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinal match. (Photo: Concacaf Media)

ARLINGTON, Texas (July 25, 2020)—Canada defeated Costa Rica 2-0 in their quarterfinal match on Sunday at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas to advance to the semifinals of the 2021 Gold Cup.

It was a stop-start affair in the early going, with little in the way of sustained possession and very little rhythm for either team. The lone goal in the first half of play came from Junior Hoilett in the 18th minute. 

Hoilett became the focus of the focal point of the Canuck attack with the notable absence of Alphonso Davies and Kyle Larin, and he didn’t disappoint. He timed his run to perfection and latched on to a direct ball over the top by Stephen Eustaquio before calmly lifting the ball over an advancing Estaban Alvarado, who was late coming off his line.

Steven Vitoria came close to extending his team’s lead three minutes later, but his firmly struck volley from the top of the penalty area was tipped over the cross bar by Alvarado. The contest continued with chances rare for both sides. 

An acrobatic Mark-Anthony Kaye effort shortly before the halftime whistle was the only other noteworthy even in what was otherwise an underwhelming first half.  Half-time score: Canada 1, Costa Rica 0.

The second half began with Canada still taking the fight to Costa Rica with Tajon Buchanan and Lucas Cavallini combining to make regular inroads into the Costa Rican defensive third, often with stellar defensive effort by Ronald Matarrita keeping the Central Americans in the game.  Costa Rica made three changes at halftime, including the introduction of talisman Bryan Ruiz and Columbus Crew’s Luis Diaz.

The Ticos, needing the equalizer, began committing bodies forward and were almost caught out in the 58th minute when Buchanan played Hoilett through on goal, but his powerful left-footed shot was straight at Alvarado, who parried the ball to safety.

The insurance goal came in the 68th minute through Eustaquio. A fortuitous bounce fell kindly to Eustaquio in the penalty area, and he gladly accepted the offering to slot the ball calmly past Alvarado to put his team up two goals.

Tesho Akindele should have extended the Canucks lead in the 72nd minute via a neat Buchanan back heel, but he shot his effort into the side netting and had his sliding effort in second half stoppage time incredibly saved from point blank range by Alvarado.

The match ended with Canada grabbing a 2-goal win and with that advancing to to face the much fancied Mexicans.

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