An inspired performance by Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa helped El Tri to a 0-0 tie in their World Cup group match versus Brazil on Tuesday.
“I undoubtedly believe (I played the game of my career),” said the official match MVP after the final whistle in Fortaleza.
“We knew it was going to be a very difficult match…but we’re happy to pick up a point against the World Cup hosts,” added the twenty-eight-year-old who helped Mexico become the first team from the CONCACAF region to not lose to a Brazilian side in the World Cup.
Brazil tested Mexico’s defense on numerous occasions in the first half yet Ochoa lived up to the challenge with four saves. Neymar made two key stops by Ochoa in the 26th minute off a header from close range while the second came near the stroke of halftime from David Luiz alone in front of the goal.
The second half began with El Tri applying pressure via long-range efforts from J.J. Vazquez and Giovanni Dos Santos that sailed above the crossbar. Three-quarters of the way through the match the Verde Amarelha turned the momentum to their favor but were once again thwarted by “Saint Memo”. Thaigo Silva’s blast from five yards out in the 85th minute was turned away by Ochoa who ended with eight saves while the Mexican defense repelled Brazilian attacks.
Ochoa’s Brazilian counterpart, Julio César, made a few notable saves and prevented what could’ve been an embarrassing defeat. The Brazilian team’s lackluster performance has surely disappointed their fans and will likely turn up the pressure on a side that’s among the favorites to win the World Cup.
“The teams looked for quality attacks. Each side had their chances…it was well-played,” admitted a seemingly upset Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari in the post-match press conference.
Ochoa’s heroics have received considerable praise via social network users such as Twitter where #MemoOchoa has become a trending topic. Soccer stars like Colombia’s Radamel Falcao lauded Ochoa’s “impressive playing” while Mexico’s president couldn’t contain his joy:
Qué gran partido. Muy bien jugado, @miseleccionmx. Hoy México demuestra su grandeza. ¡Bravo, @yosoy8a! #Mex
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) June 17, 2014
In their final group matches on Monday, Brazil will face Cameroon while Mexico squares up against Croatia. Both teams have four points in Group A and are in a good position to go through to their next round. Yet Mexico's Oribe Peralta cautioned against being overconfident.
"We have yet to win," Peralta said after Tuesday's match. "We must try to get the victory (versus Croatia) and not depend on other results".
Update: In a related yet tragic note, a suicide bomber in Nigeria reportedly detonated explosives outside of a public screening of the Brazil vs. Mexico match. There are said to be multiple fatalities due to this possible act of violence.
Online Sources including Update– El Universal; Twitter; Folha.com; The Guardian; time.com
Video Source - YouTube user La Silla Rota (Guillermo Ochoa's save from of Neymar's header in Tuesday's Brazil-Mexico match is strikingly similar to a stop made by Gordon Banks of England against Pele in the 1970 World Cup).