Canada, Costa Rica seal Copa America berths with playoff wins

Canada and Costa Rica booked their places at this year’s Copa America on Saturday after winning their respective games in a CONCACAF playoff double-header in Texas.

Canada advanced to the tournament after defeating Trinidad & Tobago 2-0 before Costa Rica came from behind to down Honduras 3-1 at the Toyota Stadium in Frisco.

Cyle Larin and Jacob Shaffelburg sealed victory for Canada, who will now face world champions Argentina in the opening game of the Copa America on June 20.

“It means a lot for us as a team, I’m happy I scored and to move forward to the Copa America,” Larin said after the win.

“It was a good performance by the guys. We knew it was going to be difficult to break them down but we stuck to the game, stuck together and got the win.”

Real Mallorca winger Larin fired Canada into the lead on 61 minutes, drilling a low shot into the bottom corner after good work by Tajon Buchanan down the right flank.

Substitute Shaffelburg made the game safe with Canada’s second goal in stoppage time, collecting a pass from Jonathan David before unleashing a thunderous shot into the roof of the net from just inside the area.

Canada’s reward for Saturday’s victory is a place in Group A of the Copa America alongside Lionel Messi’s Argentina, Peru and Chile.

Costa Rica, meanwhile, will line-up in Group D alongside Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay after their 3-1 win over Honduras.

An entertaining contest saw Honduras take the lead through Michaell Chirinos’s thunderous first-time volley from 25 yards that ripped into the Costa Rica net after 10 minutes.

Orlando Galo then levelled for Costa Rica two minutes later, bundling home from close range after Honduras failed to clear a free-kick into the area.

Teenager Warren Madrigal then uncorked a spectacular long-range volley to fire Costa Rica into the lead on 56 minutes before Jefferson Brenes doubled ‘Los Ticos’ lead in the 62nd minute to make the game safe.

The Copa America, South American football’s international championship, has been expanded to include teams from CONCACAF this year and will be staged at venues across the United States. BSS

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