After a scoreless first half with little action from both sides, Mexico's lone goal came in the 70th minute thanks to an Edson Alvarez header that deflected off Junior Lacayo and into the net. Hector Herrera, who will be suspended for Mexico's next qualifier against El Salvador due to yellow card accumulation, provided the assist from a corner kick.
"You had to be calm, patient," said Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to TUDN after the final whistle. "The team showed character and tried to play the entire time. In World Cup qualifiers, what's important are the points."
With the victory in hand, Mexico remains third in the table with 25 points and a +7 goal differential. The United States, level with Mexico on 25 points, sit above them in second place thanks to a goal differential of +13. Costa Rica, in fourth place, are on 22 points and with a +3 goal differential.
All three have yet to cement a place in the World Cup, but are guaranteed at least an intercontinental playoff spot. Below them, fifth place Panama, sixth place El Salvador, seventh place Jamaica and eight place Honduras are out of the running.
"Today we took an important step, but we still need another to qualify for the World Cup," said Mexico assistant coach Jorge Theiler in the post-game press conference. Manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino was absent from the match after recovering from an eye procedure, but is expected to be back on the sidelines on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Octagonal leaders Canada secured a place for Qatar 2022 after a 4-0 win over Jamaica that pushed them to 28 points. The Canadians will be taking part in their first World Cup since 1986.