Brazil denied as brilliant Ochoa saves the day for Mexico

Jun 18, 2014
Bill Mann

Star turn from Mexican goalkeeper draws comparisons with Gordon Banks in 1970

Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Brazil 0 Mexico 0. The World Cup has uncovered its first new star after a brilliant display of goalkeeping from Guillermo Ochoa gave Mexico a share of the spoils in their Group A clash with Brazil and left Luiz Felipe Scolari a frustrated man.

"They had a very good goalkeeper who had a very good day and that's why we didn't win," said the Brazilian coach when asked to explain the result. And the veteran coach was generous in his praise of Mexico's all-round performance, saying: "Here in Brazil we tend to believe that other players are not as good as we are and we thought that Mexico weren't any good - but today they played as well as we did... They know how to play football. I don't think we got the result we expected yet I'm very pleased."

According to Scolari Brazil's performance against Mexico was "at least 10 per cent better" than the way the team played in last week's 3-1 defeat of Croatia in their opening game of the tournament. "The team is doing better and better. We still have a way to go and we can play well. I was pretty happy with what I saw on the pitch."

Despite the heroics of Ochoa in the cauldron atmosphere of the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza, it was another stuttering display from the tournament favourites, and Mexico created plenty of chances of their own in what was an entertaining game despite the scoreline.

But while Brazil keeper Julio Cesar was called on to make a couple of athletic saves it was his Mexican counterpart who provided the magical moments. Paulinho, David Luiz and Thiago Silva were all denied by the athleticism and rapid reactions of Ochoa, but it was his save from Neymar that will live long in the memory. It was up there with the very best saves in World Cup history, not far off Gordon Banks' legendary lunge to deny Pele in the 1970 tournament.

Like Pele's effort 44 years ago, Neymar rose high and headed the ball towards the goalkeeper's right but just as he must have thought he'd given Brazil the lead, Ochoa leapt across his goal and, at full stretch, palmed away the ball. Goalline technology later showed that the ball was on the line when Ochoa made his wondrous intervention.

"I can't remember a goalkeeper performing like that in a World Cup," Mexico coach Miguel Herrera exclaimed later.

Ochoa described his performance as "the game of my life" and he can expect to receive the attention of several of the world's top clubs in the coming weeks. Until May he was on the books of Ajaccio in the French Ligue 1, but he has since left the Corsican club and is now a free agent.

On the back of last night's display, he won't be for long.

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