KANSAS CITY, Kansas - Miguel Ponce gave Mexico its second CONCACAF under-23 title in eight years, scoring with four minutes remaining in extra time to lift El Tri to a 2-1 win over a nine-man Honduras on Monday in the final of the confederation's Olympic qualifying tournament.
The victory completed Mexico's perfect run through the tournament with a fifth win in as many games and having outscored its opponents 16-3.
"The character of the team is one of the best things that we have. We have a lot of unity and determination to win," Tena said. "I am proud of the guys for that. We weren't just satisfied with just getting in the Olympics. We wanted to win the game. We wanted to take the title. We knew that the goal was going to come at some point. We were determined."
The result denied Honduras, reduced to 10 men when Luis Garrido was ejected in the third minute of injury time and then to nine when Wilmer Crisanto was expelled in the 119th minute, a third CONCACAF U-23 title since 2000.
"What we wanted to do for the most part was to be able to last and I think the players did a good job doing that," Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez said. "They played very intelligent. I knew it was tough and I value the effort of my players. It was a very valiant effort on my part."
Both teams already had clinched berths in the Olympics and were playing their fifth game in 11 days.
Ponce volleyed Israel Jimenez's cross low at the left post, sending the ball under Honduras keeper Jose Mendoza from the edge of the six.
"Yes, the win feels good, especially winning that way," Mexico coach Luis Fernando Tena said. "It's more enjoyable."
Honduras was playing its second extra time match in three days, having needed 120 minutes to outlast El Salvador 3-2 on Saturday in the semifinals and earn a place in the London Olympics.
Los Catrachos went ahead in the 48th minute when Romell Quioto leapt near the penalty spot to head in Alexander Lopez's free kick from near the right touchline at the top of Mexico's defensive third.
Marco Fabian equalized in the 75th, finding time and space - after a series of passes from Hector Herrera and Alan Pulido - 30 meters from goal to blast a right-footed effort inside the near post.
It was Fabian's fifth goal, tying him with Pulido for the tournament lead.
Mexico had the better of play early with Honduras' chances limited to set pieces, mostly free kicks by Lopez.
Few opportunities were created in the first half, with Herrera and Fabian sending the two best chances high in the 27th and 39th minutes.
After falling behind, Mexico had the majority of play. After equalizing Mexico continued to push forward and nearly went ahead with Fabian pulling a shot wide in the 83rd and second-half substitute Erick Torres putting a header off the bar in the 86th.
Honduras' best moment came in the 62nd when Andy Najar worked his way alone to the Mexico goal box before Mexico keeper Jose Rodriguez - playing his first game in the tournament - was able to block the D.C. United midfielder.
"There were other games where I thought we played well. Not necessary the best game we played," Suarez said. "In a game like this, special situations like an ending in a movie, it didn't happen. However, I loved the effort. There was effort to try to win the game. The desire to win was something that I really, really liked from my team that I saw tonight."
Mexico won the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying event for the sixth time, adding to its titles in 1964, 1972, 1976, 1996 and 2004.
Both teams were undermanned with Honduras playing without suspended defender Hilder Colon and injured midfielder Alredo Mejia, who broke a bone in his foot in the first half of Saturday's semifinal victory over El Salvador and was expected to miss two months.
Earlier Monday, Mexico learned Pumas midfielder had suffered a torn ligament in his right knee in El Tri's semifinal victory Saturday over Canada. He was expected to be out at least six months.
That added to the casualty list for the tournament that also included the United States' Juan Aguedlo (knee), Canada's Babeyele Sodade (knee), and El Salvador's Jonathan Aguila (knee) - all of which are expected to miss significant time with their clubs.