Fortaleza: Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa made two outstanding saves to deny Neymar as battling Mexico held Brazil to a 0-0 draw in their World Cup Group A match on Tuesday, ending the hosts’ 10-game winning streak in the process.
Ochoa went full length to brilliantly beat out a header from Neymar in the first half, blocked a fierce shot from the forward in the second and then stopped a thumping Thiago Silva header on the line late on, as they denied the hosts.
The Mexicans enjoyed brief periods of domination themselves in the second half and, if they had been more accurate with their long-range shooting, might have snatched all three points.
The result leaves both teams on four points after their opening victories, with Croatia and Cameroon, who meet on Thursday, both pointless.
A slow start to the contest for the hosts allowed Mexico to carve out the first real opportunity after 25 minutes, with Hector Herrera beating two defenders before getting a shot away at goal which was kept out by Julio Cesar.
Two minutes later Brazil came alive as Neymar planted a header towards the bottom corner of the net, only for Ochoa to produce a fine save to deny the forward.
Miguel Layun was the next player to try his luck, but his effort from distance following a loose header from Thiago Silva was high and wide of the target.
A cross into the box moments before the end of the half almost provided the breakthrough goal when David Luiz found himself unmarked inside the box, but Ochoa was once more on hand to pull off a close-range save to deny Brazil.
Brazil haven’t been troubled by many other nations, but Mexico happen to be one who have given them fits. Mexico have beaten Brazil seven of their last 13 meetings. Though it wasn’t at the senior level, Mexico also shocked Brazil in the gold medal game at the 2012 Olympics and many of the players who were on the field on Tuesday also played in that title game.
Tuesday also saw a match-up of two of the best fan bases on the globe.
Earlier, the Mexican fans gathered around the Luzeiros Hotel, many of them wearing their huge sombreros, while the younger generation wore the popular wrestling masks with the team colours.
A mariachi group began to play songs as everybody joined in what became a huge Mexican fiesta.
The songs were so loud and so emotive that the Mexican players came out to the balcony to listen to the music and thanked the fans.
“We had a rough year, 2013. We owed the people, and that show of love motivates us to come out to thank them,” Mexican manager Miguel Herrera said. “The people are doing a great effort to be here and support us. We wanted to show them that we are not untouchables.”