Final Score: Canada 1-0 Costa Rica (A.E.T) Goalscorers: Viens 104' 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup Quarter-finals​

Match Recap

It took 120 minutes, but Canada is through to the semi-finals of the Concacaf W Gold Cup, beating Costa Rica 1-0 thanks to an extra time goal from substitute Evelyne Viens. Three days after beating Costa Rica 3-0, Canada were on the front foot early in the match, taking a couple of shots at Daniela Solera's goal. Costa Rica gave them an early scare as well, with Priscila Chinchilla getting in behind the Canadian backline and running at Kailen Sheridan's goal, but Kadeisha Buchahan was able to slide in and block her shot, before Chinchilla was called offside anyway. Canada kept knocking at the door, first with Vanessa Gilles heading a cross from a corner kick over the bar, before Cloé Lacasse sent a shot just wide of the post after connecting on a cross from Ashley Lawrence. Jordyn Huitema had one of Canada's best looks in the first half, meeting a low pass across the penalty area by Adriana Leon, but she sent her shot high over the bar. Gilles had another opportunity for a header later in the half, but this time sent it inches wide of the mark. Huitema came close to scoring again in the 42nd minute, getting her head on an inch-perfect delivery into the penalty area from Gabrielle Carle, but Solera dived to her left to make the save and push the ball away from danger. In stoppage time, with Solera out of her goal, Leon tried to chip a shot into the back of the net, but the effort was cleared off the line by a defender. Despite outshooting Costa Rica 16-1 in the first half, just five of Canada's shots were on target, and none found the back of the net -- with the two teams entering the break at nil-nil. The second half started the same way as the first, with Canada on the front foot. Deanne Rose, who replaced Huitema at halftime, fired an early shot wide of the post, a few minutes before another shot of hers was blocked. Ashley Lawrence took a shot that sailed just over the crossbar a few minutes later. Costa Rica were fine with slowing the game down and playing for extra time, something that was rattling Canada at times, especially later in the second half when seemingly every player that came into contact with a Canadian hit the deck and required treatment from the medical staff. Rose had another opportunity in the 82nd minute, getting on the end a cross into the area, but couldn't keep her shot down and it sailed over the bar. Vanessa Gilles received the ball in the box moments later, but rushed her shot, and it too ended up in the seats behind the Costa Rican net. With time running out in the second half, Adriana Leon -- the tournament's top goalscorer during the group stage -- hit the target twice, but neither effort had enough power behind it, and Solera was able to make two more saves. Kailen Sheridan was called into action for the first time in second half stoppage time, making an incredible desperation stop on Costa Rica's first shot on target of the match -- denying Alexa Herrera what would have almost certainly been the winning goal. Canada seemed to receive a bit of a boost of energy after the save, but still couldn't find a goal, and the match went to extra time. In the extra period, Canada continued to dominate possession and have the scoring opportunities. Jessie Fleming took a pair of shots from distance that came close to finding the net, but both went wide of the left post. Canada's breakthrough finally came in the 104th minute. After winning a free kick, Fleming floated a pass into the penalty area, where it was met by Evelyne Viens. The second half substitute headed the ball into the top right corner of the Costa Rican goal, giving Canada a long-awaited lead, and what would be the match-winning goal. Viens came close to doubling the lead a few minutes later, forcing another diving save from Solera. That would be it in the second half of extra time, as Canada held on for a tough 1-0 victory. With the win, Canada has qualified for the semi-finals at the Concacaf W Gold Cup, where they will play either the United States or Colombia.

Three Observations

Sheridan and Viens provide crucial late-game heroics to send Canada to the semis​

In a match where they took 39 shots at the opposing net, Canada's best two moments of Saturday's match came after the 90 minutes were up. With Costa Rica absorbing pressure for most of the match, but Canada failing to find the back of the net, it seemed like one moment of quality from Las Ticas could be all they needed to steal an unfathomable victory, and that was very nearly the case. In one of their rare trips deep into the Canadian half of the pitch, Priscila Chinchilla played a pass to the feet of Gabriela Guillén, who burst into the penalty area. She passed it along the ground to the edge of the six-yard box for Alexa Herrera, who fired a low shot at the Canadian net with her first touch. Kailen Sheridan, who hadn't faced a single shot on target all night, made a miraculous save, lunging to her right and getting a touch onto the ball to deny Herrera and keep Canada in the game. That would have almost-certainly been the game-winning goal, three minutes into stoppage time and with Canada already struggling to find a goal of their own. Instead, thanks to Sheridan's heroics, the match went to extra time. At the end of the first half of the 30-minute extra time period, Evelyne Viens became the other hero for Canada, scoring the match-winning goal with a header from a well-crafted set piece. Jessie Fleming won a free kick outside the penalty area and stepped up to take it herself, floating a pass into the box, where Viens met it to head the ball into the top right corner of the net. It was a devastating blow for the Costa Ricans, who had battled hard all night to defend their net, but for Canada it was a goal that felt long-overdue after 104 minutes of near-misses. Viens, who also forced a brilliant save out of Daniela Solera a few minutes later, may have played herself into Canada's semi-final starting lineup with a strong 45 minute shift late in the second half and in extra time.

Las Ticas put on a masterclass in frustrating, defensive football​

The dark arts of Concacaf are no secret, and on Saturday night Costa Rica put on a clinic in frustrating their opponents. For much of the game, Costa Rica had as many as seven or eight players deep in their own half, forming a wall around their penalty area that Canada found tough to infiltrate. Persistent fouls and time-wasting techniques such as going to ground feigning injuries are tactics long-used by Concacaf underdogs, and they were on full display at BMO Stadium. The Canadian players were getting increasingly agitated with both the time-wasting and inconsistency in calling fouls, which only grew as they went longer without a goal. Even when a plan like that is expected, it doesn't make it any easier to actually play against, and at times only adds to the irritation. It was the same to an extent in the group stage match between these sides on Wednesday, but Canada scored an early goal and won that match 3-0, so Costa Rica were forced to open up a bit. They got a chance to see how Canada was going to attack them, however, and prepared accordingly. Bev Priestman said as much before the match, that she was disappointed to have to play Costa Rica again in such quick succession. Costa Rica were as expected, and made the night miserable for Canada. They should also receive some credit, however, for holding on defensively for so long against a barrage of shots, and Daniela Solera in particular was called upon to make several fantastic saves on the night. The Costa Rican defenders were fearless as well, throwing themselves in front of as many shots as they could to keep the match scoreless. Priestman -- who was understandably frustrated during her postgame press conference, in part due to the lack of goals from her own team -- spoke highly of their opponents, saying it was the gameplan that her side was prepared for.

"All credit to Costa Rica... I expected this game today if I'm honest," said Priestman. "I think you always get this, and we've had a bit of a great run in many ways, maybe we needed this game a little bit to set us up for the next game. But, yeah, it was frustrating, a lot of stoppages, a lot of fouls, you lose your flow.

"It was one of those games, but ultimately we did whatever it takes to win. I think the team pushed right to the very wire and I'm proud of them for that. Sometimes it's not necessarily what you do but how you do it, and they showed resilience to keep pushing because I did feel somehow, somewhere, it was going to come."

While frustrating to watch, Priestman is right in that Canada needed a tough challenge in this tournament, after having it relatively easy throughout Group C action. They played three teams far below them in the FIFA Rankings, and it showed, playing to a 3-0-0 record and +13 goal difference with three dominant performances.

Finding a way to win the match before penalties took a lot of resilience, and will hopefully serve them well as they advance in this tournament and ramp up their preparation for the Olympic Games this summer.

Lack of clinical finishing kept Costa Rica in the game​

For the first time in this tournament, Canada failed to score in the opening 45 minutes, and then the full 90 minutes, but it wasn't because of a lack of opportunities. Canada had 70% of the possession of the ball and outshot Costa Rica 16-1 in the first half, spending the majority of the time in Costa Rica's side of the pitch, but had nothing to show for it. Adriana Leon came closest for Canada in first half stoppage time, chipping a shot toward goal while Daniela Solera was out of her net, but a Costa Rican defender was on the line to clear it away. It was a particularly difficult 45 minutes for Jordyn Huitema, who had several good opportunities herself, but was unable to put the ball into the back of the net. Huitema had scored in her previous three starts for Canada, but that streak was ended at BMO Stadium on Saturday night, when she was replaced by Deanne Rose at halftime as Bev Priestman looked for something different in attack. Rose had her chances in the second half as well, as did Leon, Vanessa Gilles, Ashley Lawrence, and others, but Canada were still struggling to hit the target. Canada were getting down both flanks regularly, and had some opportunities through the middle and from set pieces as well, but nothing was leading to the breakthrough they needed. Many of the chances were rushed or from distance as Canada struggled to break down the Costa Rican defensive block. "I think it was one of them games," said Bev Priestman after the match. "The amount of chances and shots that we had, it just felt like the ball just couldn't cross the line." Costa Rica didn't seem too keen on attacking for most of the match, with their only shot on target coming in second half stoppage time, when Alexa Herrera forced the aforementioned huge save from Kailen Sheridan on their best attack of the match. After 90-plus minutes of goalless action, extra time was needed, where Evelyne Viens would score the winner with her head, sending Canada through to the final four. In total, Canada outshot Las Ticas 39-5. Against a team that will attack more in the semi-final, either the United States or Colombia, Canada can expect more of a challenge for their own backline, but also to have opportunities for higher-quality scoring chances as the pitch opens up compared to the extremely defensive formation Costa Rica played with. They won't get 39 shots again, but what is more important is if they take advantage of the chances they do get. Player of the Match

Kailen Sheridan, Canada It was Evelyne Viens who scored the long-awaited goal for Canada in extra time, but the match would not have got that far if not for a miraculous save from Kailen Sheridan in second half stoppage time. It was the only shot on target she faced, but Costa Rica made sure it was a good one.

What’s next?

Next up, Canada will take on either the United States or Colombia in the Concacaf W Gold Cup semi-finals, at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, California on Wednesday, March 6. All Concacaf W Gold Cup matches are available to watch live on OneSoccer.

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