By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A stunning performance from Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa ensured Brazil and Mexico drew 0-0 at the Arena Castelão this afternoon. The stopper made two point-blank saves from Neymar, and another from Thiago Silva, as the Seleção were frustrated in front of a packed house in Fortaleza.
Yet it was not all one way traffic, as Mexico threatened in the second half and had chances to win the game. Fred again had a poor game for the hosts and was replaced after the hour mark by Jo.
Brazil went close in the opening exchanges, Ochoa making one of the saves of the tournament so far with a sprawling stop to thwart a Neymar header. Brazil were missing Hulk, out with a thigh injury, and his replacement Ramires couldn’t get a grip on the midfield.
He was replaced at half-time by Shakhtar forward Bernard, who lent more pace to the Brazil attack. From the beginning of the restart he managed to get in behind the Mexican backline but his cross was cut out before it reached Neymar, loitering dangerously in the middle.
Urged on by the capacity crowd, Brazil surged forward in search of the opening goal, but they consequently left huge gaps in the midfield, giving Mexico the freedom to hit on the counter attack. The game went back and forth as both sides sensed a winner. Jo was put clean through on goal but snatched at the chance and dragged his shot wide.
Scolari made his last change, bringing on Willian for Oscar, who did not have the same influence on proceedings as he previously had done against Croatia last Thursday. Five minutes from time, Thiago Silva headed Neymar’s free-kick goalwards but Ochoa foiled Brazil yet again.
Twice in the closing stages Mexico went close through Guardado and Jimenez, but Júlio César was equal to them. Brazil now need something from their final game against Cameroon on Monday to ensure progress to the knock-out stages.
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