PUEBLA, Mexico – It’s going to be Canada against the United States for a spot in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup after Canada soundly beat Nicaragua 5-1 in the decisive Group B finale of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship on Friday night.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Caleb Clarke led the way with a pair of goals, with the Canadians also getting goals from Samuel Piette, Mauro Eustaquio and Ben McKendry.
The scoreline could've been much higher as Canada hit the crossbar twice in the first half and had spurned chance after chance in the second half as well.
The result saw the Canucks finish second in Group B behind Cuba, and they will face their regional foes on Feb. 26 after the Americans beat Costa Rica 1-0 earlier Friday to finish atop Group A.
Eulises Pavón got Nicaragua’s only goal from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time.
Piette opened the scoring six minutes in when John Dollary took a Canadian free kick on the right side towards the Fortuna Dusseldorf midfielder. Piette stepped onto it and hammered a powerful curling shot into the roof of the net before racing to the sidelines to celebrate one of the goals of the tournament so far.
Clarke got his first of the night on a corner kick in the 24th minute. Ben Fisk took the corner from the right side and Clarke wasn’t picked up on his near-post run, hitting a right-footed effort to double Canada’s lead.
Canada got their third of the night from the spot after Nicaragua had Christian Gutiérrez sent off for a second yellow card after handling Piette’s long-range shot in the 37th minute. Eustaquio stepped up and scored to the corner to his right.
Pavón’s goal also came from the spot, and while that call was contentious in and of itself, just a few seconds earlier Nicaragua could have had a man sent off after Alessandro Riggi was struck in the face, but there was no card on the play.
Any worries of a comeback were quickly put to rest after Clarke converted Dollery’s cross in the 54the minute and McKendry scored from close range in the 65th minute to put a stamp on the result.