Brazil and Mexico staged an exciting match on the pitch of the Castelão Arena this Tuesday afternoon. And yet - and very much due to the performance of goalkeepers - the match ended with no goals. Mexican keeper Ochoa made at least three amazing saves that prevented Brazilian fans from celebrating victory. The two teams, which had won in the first round, are now tied at four points in Group A of the World Cup.
With striker Hulk absent due to injury, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's squad for the match had Julio César as goalkeeper; Daniel Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Marcelo as defenders; Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Ramires and Oscar at midfield; and Neymar and Fred in the attack. Mexican coach Miguel Herrera's decided to go with the following squad: Ochoa as goalkeeper; Maza Rodriguez, Rafa Márquez, Héctor Moreno as defenders; Aguilar, José Vázquez, Herrera, Guardado and Layún as midfielders; and Giovani dos Santos and Oribe Peralta as forwards.
The game started with many harsh moves and hard fouls. Raw strength prevailed over technique in the first ten minutes of the match. Mexico's first delivery happened at the 23rd minute, with a shot by defensive midfielder Herrera from outside the box that almost brushed the crossbar. Julio César's hand actually brushed the ball, but the referee ruled a goal kick.
Brazil's response came three minutes later. Daniel Alves made a great cross from the right flank, which Neymar rose higher than Rafa Márquez to catch and lodged a striking header. Keeper Ochoa made an incredible save and prevented the goal.
Mexico brought danger on the 40th minute, with a shot by Jose Vazquez from outside the box that went narrowly over Julio César's left crossbar.
Mexico goalkeeper Ochoa saved the day again at the 43rd minute. Neymar shot a free kick into the box. Thiago Silva avoided the Mexican offside trap and chested the ball to Paulinho, but his efforts were again thwarted by the Mexican goalkeeper.
Brazil came back from half-time with one substitution: Ramires, already booked with a yellow card, gave place to Bernard. And the striker was already bringing danger to the Mexicans by the 47th minute. Rodríguez successfully intercepted the cross and prevented Neymar's header.
At the 53rd minute, Guardado ventured a long shot that got slightly brushed by Thiago Silva and the deflection almost eluded keeper Julio César. A minute later, the Mexicans struck again. This time it was left-footer Vazquez bringing another scare to the Brazilian goalkeeper.
Brazil would only bring danger to the Mexican goal at the 63rd minute. Even from afar, Neymar shot a free kick that barely missed Ochoa's right angle.
Fred left the pitch at the 67th minute to make place for Jô. Soon afterwards, Neymar chested the ball down on the right side of the box and fired a striking left-legger. The ball hit Ochoa's body, and Daniel Alves got the rebound. The shot was intercepted and Brazil won the corner kick.
Thiago Silva was booked a yellow card at the 33rd minute for a rough foul on Chicharito Hernandez, who had just entered the match to replace Peralta. Giovani dos Santos did not take advantage of the good position for a free kick and hit the Brazilian wall.
At the 85th minute, the Mexican goalkeeper performed yet another miracle. Neymar crossed a free kick right on Thiago Silva's head in the penalty shot. Ochoa once again prevented the crowd from roaring by blocking the seemingly indefensible header.
At the 88th and 90th minutes, two consecutive flights from the Mexican attack gave Brazilian fans a scare. One of them ruffled the net from the outside and required another good save by Julio César.
Brazil goes back to the pitch on 5 PM on Monday (23 June). The opponent is Cameroon and the match happens at the Mané Garrincha National Stadium, in Brasilia. Mexico faces Croatia on the same day and time at the Pernambuco Arena in Recife.