Mexico and Brazil played to a scoreless draw Tuesday at Estadio Castelão in Fortaleza in the teams’ second Group A match, a result that came with completely different meanings for the two sides.
While both teams are now sitting comfortably atop the group after wins in their tournament openers, the host country’s lofty expectations make anything less than a win for Brazil a disaster. El Tri, meanwhile, have shed the disappointments of their CONCACAF qualifying challenges and are now in great position to advance out of the group.
MEMO HUGE AGAIN: Mexico manager Miguel Herrera’s much-discussed decision to start Guillermo Ochoa in goal (following his huge performance against Cameroon) paid off once again with another monstrous game from the veteran goalkeeper. After a handful of gigantic saves throughout the match, Ochoa saved the game for Mexico in the 86th minute with a brilliant reaction save on a Thiago Silva corner-kick header.
He kept it scoreless through the first half first with a stunning outstretched save just inside his right post on a Neymar header in the 26th minute and then again in the 44th on a point-blank Paulinho shot. Then in the 69th minute, he turned away Neymar again on a reaction save at the near post on a left-footed blast.
JÚLIO CÉSAR NOT BAD, EITHER: The Toronto FC ‘keeper’s biggest save of the night came in the first minute of stoppage time, going low to palm away a Raúl Jiménez shot from the right wing for just his second save of the match.
BACK AND FORTH: Both sides had their chances to net the winner, with Brazil dominating much of the action early in the first half and then Mexico making a push late in the first and then right off the break. And then with the home crowd pushing Brazil forward late, Mexico did well to hold on through a furious Seleção push.
MEXICO STAND PAT, HULK OUT: Herrera stuck with the identical side that beat Cameroon 1-0 in the Group A opener last Friday, with Oribe Peralta and Giovani dos Santos up top and Javier Hernández once again on the bench. "Chicharito" did come on for Peralta in the 74th minute. Brazil had no such choice, as Hulk was unavailable for selection due to a knock picked up in training, replaced by Ramires on the right wing.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Ochoa, Mexico. The floppy-haired netminder's stock continues to rise in this World Cup with a handful of huge saves against Brazil and six overall in the match. Good news for El Tri and Ochoa’s free-agent club status.