by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 17th 2014)
World Cup hosts Brasil experienced a frustrating evening in Fortaleza as Miguel Herreraʼs México withstood everything that Luiz Felipe Scolariʼs team could throw at them. It ended 0-0, but this was no bore draw. Scolari had previously said that México was the team that gave them the stiffest test in the Confederations Cup and beat them in the Olympic Games – the one title to elude the Brasilians.
Undoubted Man of the Match Guillermo Ochoa who plays in Franceʼs Ligue Un for Ajaccio proved to be an unbreakable final barrier. Neymar rose to to meet Barçelona team-mate Dani Alves da Silvaʼs cross head powerfully at goal, but Ochoa was determined not to be beaten. A firm right hand pushed it away for a corner.
A fantastic save and there were more to come. Neymarʼs free-kick was superbly chested through by Brasilʼs captain Thiago Silva into the path of Spurs midfielder Paulinho. Somehow, Ochoa blocked his effort from point blank range.
Clearly, tonight it would require something special to beat Ochoa and Fredʼs consistently weak efforts wasted Neymarʼs work in particular The controversial Fluminense forward who starred in the Confederationsʼ Cup last year had a dreadful match – as bad as Ochoa excelled.
Midway through the second half Neymar was once again denied by Ochoa at the expense of a corner which he collected after juggling it and unleashing a long clearance that Dani Alves did well to head clear. As the half entered its final ten minutes Paris Saint-Germainʼs Thiago Silva had little choice but to foul Manchester Unitedʼs Javier Hernández, who had just replaced Méxicoʼs star striker Oribe Peralta – one of the home-based players. Peralta plays for Santos Laguna.
Villarrealʼs Giovanni dos Santos took a poor free-kick that resulted in a quick break. Bernard tried to find former Manchester City and Everton striker Jô (João Alves de Assis da Silva) who currently plays alongside Ronaldinho at Atlético Mineiro, but Ochoa intercepted at the forwardʼs feet. Shortly afterwards Silva could not believe his ill-fortune as Ochoa thwarted him yet again with an instinctive save.
While Brasil could not find a a way past the final barrier Ochoaʼs defence performed well too. Veteran captain Rafa Márquez, captaining the team for a fourth World Cup – a record – marshalled the defence well. Francisco Rodríguez thwarted Neymar by intercepting Bernardʼs cross. The rub of the whistle seemed to go to the hosts, but without dire consequences.
Ten minutes into the match Marceloʼs fantastic pass down left wing released Chelseaʼs Óscar who crossed to Fred the striker was offside, but it was not given. Fred wasted the opportunity by rippling the side-netting. It wasnʼt the only poor decision. Replays showed that Héctor Herrera shot was tipped over by Brasilʼs goalkeeper Júlio César Soares de Espíndola (usually known as Júlio César), but a goal-kick was given – yet another case for using replays!
As the match progressed México attacked, but restricted themselves to long-range shooting. With five minutes left of the first half Miguel Layún shot wide from distance. Andrés Guardado had a couple of efforts that met the same fate as did another from Herrera. A dreadful attempt from Marcelo to try to get a penalty – he went down far too cheaply after minimal contact by Raúl Jiménez. In injury time Júlio César saved Jiménezʼ effort. Draw, yes – bore draw, no.