Brazil held by feisty Mexico as Ochoa stands firm
FORTALEZA - Reuters
Mexico's Vazquez receives a yellow card from referee Cüneyt Çakır of Turkey for a foul on Brazil's Neymar during their 2014 World Cup Group A soccer match at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza. REUTERS PhotoWorld Cup favourites Brazil were held to a 0-0 draw by Mexico on June 18 as goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa produced an inspired performance to deny the Brazilians their 11th victory in a row.
In an absorbing Group A match in the deafening cauldron of Fortaleza's Castelao arena, Brazil failed time and again to break down a stubborn Mexican defence.
Ochoa made a series of reflex saves to deny Paulinho, Neymar (twice) and Thiago Silva when they seemed certain to score. "We should congratulate their goalkeeper who performed at least four miracles," Brazilian striker Fred said.
At the other end, the Mexicans had a few decent chances in another entertaining game and could have snatched a victory had their long-range efforts been more accurate.
The draw ended Brazil's 10-match winning streak, dating back to August when they lost to Switzerland in a friendly.
It also meant that to make the second round of the tournament both teams need points from their final group games on June 23 when Brazil face Cameroon in Brasilia and Mexico meet Croatia in Recife.
"There was a chance here, a chance there, it was very tight," Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said.
"It wasn't a question of us evolving or not (from the last game). We've been playing this way 20 games, we are up against good teams, we need to understand that."
"It wasn't a good result, a victory would have qualified us. We need to respect other teams."
Brazil bossed the match from the outset with Marcelo and Oscar causing mischief down the left and Neymar showing the occasional burst of brilliance in the middle.
Neymar's header from a Dani Alves free kick on 26 minutes forced Ochoa's first fine save. As the ball headed goalwards he scrambled across his line and beat it away at his right hand post. Brazil's best chance of the half came just before the break.
Oscar floated a free kick into the box, Thiago Silva chested it down into the path of Paulinho, who just failed to scoop the ball over the keeper from close range.
At the other end, Mexico were restricted to long-range efforts from Miguel Layun, Jose Vasquez and Hector Herrera, none of which seriously troubled Julio Cesar in the Brazilian goal.
Brazil continued to turn the screws after the interval. In the 69th minute, Neymar turned inside his marker and drilled in a low left-foot shot which Ochoa parried to safety.
In the dying minutes Brazilian captain Thiago Silva looked certain to score with a point-blank header from a free kick but again Ochoa was in the right place to beat the ball away.
This was the first time that Mexico had held Brazil to a draw at a World Cup. Their previous three clashes ended in comprehensive victories for the Brazilians, 5-0, 4-0 and 2-0.
It was the seventh draw between the two sides in their 39 encounters. Brazil have won 22 and Mexico 10.