Guillermo Ochoa made an incredible save in Mexico's draw with Brazil in FIFA World Cup match at the Estadio Castelao on June 17, 2014, in Fortaleza, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
FORTALEZA, Brazil – In an exhausting, but enthralling encounter on Tuesday, Brazil and Mexico battled to a 0-0 draw at the Estadio Castelao.
The result will keep both sides atop the Group A table on four points each regardless of the outcome tomorrow between Croatia and Cameroon.
Mexico lost to Brazil in each of the three previous World Cup meetings between them. Though the Tricolor didn’t get a win on this occasion, its performance was certainly deserving of one, especially thanks to the goalkeeping heroics of Guillermo Ochoa.
The 28-year-old, who also had a clean sheet against Croatia in the opener, made numerous stunning saves in each half to preserve what could prove to be a valuable point.
After bright start by the host, Hector Herrera nearly gave Mexico a 24th minute lead, blasting a dipping shot from distance that goalkeeper Julio Cesar tipped over the crossbar, but was given for a goal kick.
Brazil responded quickly and, two minutes later, Ochoa was forced into his first big stop, lunging towards the left post to thwart Neymar’s header off a right-sided cross by Dani Alves.
As the half wore on, Mexico’s Miguel Layun and Jose Vazquez both barely missed after launching attempts from distance.
Ochoa, though, was called upon again in the 44th minute. Thiago Siva chested down for Paulinho in the box to beat the offside trap. The Tottenham midfielder poked at the ball on the edge of the six-yard box, but Ochoa charged out for the block.
Mexico emerged from the break in a determined mood, grabbing hold of the game and creating multiple chances with shots from outside the box.
Andres Guardado, who became more influential as the evening progressed, saw his attempt from 36-yards out deflect off Thiago Silva’s head for a corner kick.
Vazquez’s rising effort from 32 yards in 55th minute almost found the upper left corner and Herrera blazed over the crossbar two minutes later.
Brazil withstood the Mexican onslaught and slowly inched back into the game.
Six minutes after coming close on a 30-yard free kick, the relentless Neymar brought down the ball in the right side of the box to pound a 69th minute left-footer towards the near post that Ochoa did well to block with his body.
Ochoa needed to be at his best in the 86th minute as Thiago Silva snapped a point-blank header towards the net that the former Club America star instinctively, amazingly impeded.
With time running out, Guardado nearly gave Mexico an historic victory.
The Bayer Leverkusen man shot just over the crossbar in the 90th minute and, in the first minute of stoppage, compelled Julio Cesar into a loss-preventing save.
Mexico will play its final game on June 23 against Croatia, while Brazil will face Cameroon that same day.