In what may have been the best solo effort in the World Cup so far, Mexico was able to keep things square with Brazil in Tuesday’s tilt, with neither side being able to score. Brazil end up putting up 15 total shots on the board (6 on target, 7 off target, 2 blocked) while Mexico put up 13 (2 on target, 9 off target, 2 blocked).
Mexico came out firing at the start of the match, outpacing and out working the Brazilians and keeping them down on their side of the pitch for the initial minutes. It was physical for a majority of the half, with each side bodying up the other and the referees letting many questionable challenges go. This unfortunately led to somewhat of a flop-fest in the middle of the half, with some guys dropping like flies when contact was made. To the referees’ credit, they put the cards away, giving us some of the better physical battles in the tournament thus far. After their great start, Mexico unfortunately started to play more conservatively, not being able to hold possession, while Brazil continued to carry the ball into their offensive half. But as the half started to wear on, Mexico was slowly regaining their form, and started holding onto the ball a little longer and making smart plays. They peppered the host nation with shots from around the box, with Hector Herrera and Jose Juan Vasquez getting the best chances. Brazil also had their chances, but were stopped by keeper Guillermo Ochoa, who completely stole the show. His two best notable saves were against Neymar’s header in the 26th minute, and an incredible stop against THREE uncovered Brazilian players after a free kick (Mexico’s defense was caught sleeping on that one).
The physical play continued into the second half, but the referees apparently had a change of heart and started bringing out yellow cards. The cards were for fouls similar to those found in the first half, so it’s somewhat confusing decision by the officials. Regardless, the second half was much more back-and-forth between the two sides, with counter-attacks by both teams becoming regular occurrences. Even though Brazil dominated the possession game, Mexico started piling on shots, getting off four of them within the span of five minutes. Ochoa continued to shine, making a point-blank save on Neymar in the 69th minute. However, the Mexican keeper’s finest moment came in the 86th minute; Thiago Silva gets free space smack dab in the middle of the goal area on a free kick and puts it on net, but Ochoa is there to keep an almost sure goal (and sure win) away from the Brazilians.
I mean, there’s really no question as to who’s getting the UGH Award this week, right? It’s Señor Ochoa, who put up the most memorable performance of the World Cup thus far. Not only did Brazil have many quality chances on him, but he was also punching balls out and running to make catches that kept his team in the match. All of this, plus his six save performance, is why his team remained unbeaten at the end of 90 minutes.