The victory was Canada's first over Mexico since the quarterfinals of the 2000 Gold Cup, and with the win, Canada vault above Mexico and the United States – who drew Jamaica 1-1, also on Tuesday – into first place in the eight-team Octagonal with six matches left to play in the 14-game quest for a Qatar 2022 spot. Through eight games, Canada remain the only undefeated team in the final stage (four wins, four draws) and their prospects of making their first World Cup since 1986 are looking bright.
Mexico came within inches of leveling the match in the 94th minute after a corner kick ricocheted to Jorge Sánchez at the far post, but a miraculous goal-line save by Milan Borjan, diving across his net to keep the ball out, preserved the victory for Canada.
Navigating near-freezing temperatures, both Mexico and Canada took ample time to adjust to the conditions at Commonwealth Stadium leading to a rather uneventful first half. However, just before the break, Les Rouges broke the deadlock. A shot from distance by Nashville SC defender Alistair Johnston was bobbled by Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and pounced on by Larin to make it 1-0 for the home side.
Adding to his heroic performance, Larin doubled his tally in the 52nd minute. A free kick whipped in by Stephen Eustáquio was tapped in by the former Orlando City SC striker, doubling Canada's lead while simultaneously sending the near-50,000 fans in attendance into a cold frenzy.
Canada held Mexico at bay for the majority of the second half, but in the 90th minute, El Tri brought the game back to within one after Héctor Herrera headed home a Jesús Corona cross, leading to a nervy finish for Canada.
Of note: Atiba Hutchinson, 38, made his 90th career appearance for Canada, surpassing Julian de Guzman for the most caps in Canada men's national team history.
- 45+2' – CAN – Cyle Larin
- 52' – CAN – Cyle Larin
- 90' – MEX – Héctor Herrera
- THE BIG PICTURE: Tuesday night's triumph over Mexico may be the biggest victory in Canadian men's national team history. Les Rouges will finish 2021 leading the final stage of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying, a feat few would have predicted at the start of the competition. It's been a remarkable year for John Herdman's squad and they end it oozing with confidence as they've legitimatized themselves as a top-three nation in the region – and perhaps even more. On the other hand, the November window could not have gone worse for Tata Martino's Mexico, falling to the United States on Friday before losing to Canada on Tuesday night. If serious pressure wasn't on the former Atlanta United manager before, it surely is now.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Milan Borjan's stoppage-time save was nothing short of heroic.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Cyle Larin. The Beşiktaş striker scored his 21st and 22nd goals for Canada, tying him with Dwayne De Rosario for the most in Canada men's national team history.
- CAN: Thursday, Jan. 27 at Honduras | Time TBD (Paramount+, OneSoccer)
- MEX: Thursday, Jan. 27 at Jamaica | Time TBD (Paramount+)