Mexico's Jesus Corona (left) celebrates with teammate Marco Fabian after scoring against visiting Canada in a World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016, in Mexico. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY -- Mexico (4W-0D-0L, 12 points) earned a place in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with two games to spare thanks to a 2-0 win over visiting Canada (1-1-2, 4) on Tuesday night in front of 64,430 fans at the Estadio Azteca.
The current Gold Cup champion also clinched the top spot in Group A, leaving the Canadians, Honduras (1-1-2, 4) and El Salvador (0-2-2, 2) to battle for the other berth.
Andres Guardado and Jesus Corona struck for first-half goals as Mexico posted a fourth straight shutout in the competition, extending its overall unbeaten streak to 17 games.
The Tricolor took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute, when Guardado converted a penalty kick after Doneil Henry fouled Marco Fabian in the area as both players pursued a cross.
Canada kept the host from getting on the scoreboard again until the third minute of first-half stoppage time. Corona outraced four Canadian defenders to a deflected right-sided cross near the top of the box. He spun brilliantly to create separation, before guiding a right-footed shot through a crowd and beating substitute goalkeeper Kenny Stamatopoulos to net in his third consecutive qualifier.
Stamatopoulos entered the game in the 41st minute for starter Milan Borjan, who appeared to suffer a left-hand injury making a save off a Fabian attempt.
The Canadians have not scored a WCQ goal in 322 minutes and will return to action in the competition on September 2 at Honduras. Mexico, which will now focus on June’s Copa America Centenario, resumes its WCQ campaign the same day with a visit to El Salvador.