Mexico frustrated Brazil after a 0-0 draw ensured the host didn’t score in the World Cup group stage for the first time since 1978 and as well gave faint second-place hope to Cameroon, who meet Croatia tomorrow.
It was Brazil’s 99th World Cup game and it wasn’t a memorable one befitting the milestone, as Mexico held the South Americans for the first time in the FIFA World Cup.
Before the game bagan, the raw emotion of the Brazilian national anthem proved to be too much for star man Neymar, who burst into tears at its conclusion. The Selecao and their fans produced a spine-tingling rendition of the Hino Nacional Brasilia for their opener against Croatia, and their effort prior to the clash against Mexico may just have topped it.
In this Group A game at the Arena Castelao, neither team created many significant scoring chances in the first half. Brazil were without striker Hulk, who was sidelined because he did not fully recover from a muscle injury in his left leg. He was replaced by Ramires.
The rest of the Brazil squad is the same that defeated Croatia 3-1 in the opener in Sao Paulo, with Neymar and Oscar leading the Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera kept the same lineup from the 1-0 win over Cameroon in their opening match in the northeastern city of Natal.
Giovani dos Santos led Mexico in their attempt to upset the hosts and move into a good position to advance to the second round.
But it was the hosts who took the gauntlet as the game began. Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa made an outstanding save to keep Neymar from scoring.
But Neymar came very close in the 26th minute when he beat a defender to a high cross into the area. The ball was heading just inside the post when Ochoa showed his reflex strength by diving to his right to push it wide of the goal. Mexico nearly scored with a powerful long-range shot by midfielder Hector Herrera in the 24th, but it sailed just over the crossbar.
Mexico enjoyed much of the possession early in the second half and had two shots on target that flew agonizingly wide off the cross bar.
An 80th minute free-kick was Mexico’s best chance of really testing Julio Cesar in Brazil’s goal after Thiago Silva brought down Javier Hernandez close to the edge of the box. Dos Santos only managed to hit the wall of defence from the resultant kick.
Brazil’s best chance fell to captain Thiago, who nodded a free kick towards goal but his effort was saved by goalkeeper Ochoa who was in excellent form all through.
It was Julio Cesar’s turn to keep the game goalless after a wonderful save from Menenes in the 90th minute.
Brazil play their 100th World Cup game against Cameroon on Monday, while Mexico meet Croatia simultaneously.