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November 8, 2010
U.S. women take care of business against Costa Rica

Breakers forward Lauren Cheney netted the game-winner as the U.S. Women defeated Costa Rica 3-0 in their do-or-die Women’s World Cup qualifying match on Monday.
Breakers forward Lauren Cheney netted the game-winner as the U.S. Women defeated Costa Rica 3-0 in their do-or-die Women’s World Cup qualifying match on Monday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CANCUN, Mexico—If the U.S. Women’s National Team were rattled by last Friday’s unprecedented Women’s World Cup qualifying loss to Mexico, they didn’t show it in their third-place match against Costa Rica on Monday. Abby Wambach scored twice and Lori Lindsey had two assists as the U.S. blanked the Ticas 3-0 to finish third in CONCACAF qualifying and set the stage for a two-leg, aggregate goals playoff with Italy for a spot in next summer’s WWC in Germany.

The U.S. will take on the fifth-place finishers in Europe’s WWC qualifying competition on Saturday, November 20 in Padova, and Saturday, November 27 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.

The outcome of Monday’s match was never really in doubt. Wambach got off the first shot of the game, missing wide right from close range, in the third minute, and the U.S. never looked back. Costa Rica goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz made two saves in the 11th minute, the first on a hard shot by Heather O’Reilly, and the second on Cheney’s nine-yard toe-poke. In the 17th minute, Cheney put the U.S. on the board with a weak, rolling left-footer that was deflected slightly and caught Diaz off balance.

While the Ticas managed only a couple of well off-target blasts from distance in the early going, Wambach spearheaded a relentless U.S. attack. In the 28th minute, barely a minute after going down hard in the penalty area after being sandwiched between two Costa Rica defenders, she challenged Diaz with a dangerous shot from the right side of the box toward the far post, where Cheney was waiting for a rebound. Finally, in the 33rd minute, Wambach got on the board, running on to a looping ball from Lindsey and beating Diaz one-on-one with a left-footed volley from close range.

Wambach collected her second goal in the 50th minute, with an off-balance 15-yarder from the right side of the penalty area. The goal came seconds after Costa Rica’s first, and best, scoring chance of the match, a breakaway that left Monica Malvasi alone with goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart in front of the U.S. goal. Malvasi’s shot bounced off the far post and was cleared by defender Amy Le Peilbet.

Malvasi was the Ticas’ most dangerous player throughout the second half, repeatedly outrunning defenders into the box, but was unable to finish her chances. One breakaway was thwarted by backtracking midfielder Ali Krieger, and Barnhart stopped her only shot on goal. Barnhart also came up with a key – if dicey – block on Raquel Rodriguez Cedeno’s 73rd-minute free kick. The ball rebounded off the ‘keeper’s foot into a crowd at the center of the area, but the Ticas could not get off a follow-up shot.

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