World Cup Roundup: Brazil-Mexico drawOchoa's stunning performance in net highlighted Tuesday's action
Miguel Herrera chose Guillermo Ochoa to start in net over Jesus Corona at the World Cup. The decision paid dividends Tuesday against Brazil.
Ochoa was a stalwart in goal for El Tri, turning aside shot after shot in a 0-0 draw against the hosts.
Brazil peppered the Mexican defense for much of the final half hour, registering high-quality chances from point-blank range. In the 70th minute, Neymar turned and fired a low, bouncing shot toward the near post, only to see it sent aside. In the 85th minute, an unmarked Thiago Silva headed on goal from close in, but to no avail.
In total, the Selecao registered 15 shot attempts, eight of which were on goal. Ochoa stopped them all.
Mexico had their share of chances as well, with 12 shots and three on goal. Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar was forced to make a diving save on Raul Jimenez's shot in the final minute of normal time.
The possession numbers were nearly even, but Brazil was the more threatening side as the match wore on. Only Ochoa's heroics kept the hosts from taking a commanding Group A lead.
Now, both teams are tied with four points, Brazil leading only on goal differential (plus-2 to plus-1). They take on Cameroon in the third and final group-stage match. Mexico will play Croatia, with a berth in the knockout round likely to be in the balance.
In other Tuesday action…
Belgium 2, Algeria 1: A slow start gave way to a strong finish for the Group H-favorite Belgium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
The African side took a one-goal lead from the spot in the 24th minute. Sofiane Feghouli was hauled down in the area, a clear-cut foul with no room for interpretation. He calmly stepped up and converted the penalty.
Algeria led well into the second half, but a pair of Belgian substitutes made a difference. Marouane Fellaini headed one home in the 70th minute to equalize. Ten minutes later, Chelsea star Eden Hazard fed Dries Mertens with a perfect pass, and Mertens buried a shot into the back of the net for the match-winner.
Russia 1, South Korea 1: Russia overcame a major blunder by keeper Igor Akinfeev to salvage a draw Tuesday night.
Akinfeev bungled Lee Keun-Ho's shot from outside the box in the 68th minute, the ball bouncing off his hands and into the net. The near-post attempt wasn't particularly challenging, but the keeper was unable to make a clean save.
Akinfeev buried his head in his hands and South Korea looked as if it might have stolen three points. But the Russians were reinvigorated and pushed forward.
In the 74th minute, South Korean keeper Jung Sung-Ryong made a diving save on a shot from inside the box. But he was unable to corral the ball, and his defenders couldn't clear. The ball came to Alexander Kerzhakov, who entered the game just three minutes earlier, and he buried it in the back of the net for an equalizer.
Russia threatened to score again in the final quarter of an hour, but South Korea benefitted from stout defense and missed opportunities.
A look ahead to Wednesday…
Noon, Australia vs. Netherlands: Can anyone stop the Dutch? The Group B leaders blitzed the defending champions, Spain, with a 5-1 win in the opener. Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie were clinical in scoring two goals apiece. A victory Tuesday would put the Netherlands in prime position to qualify for the knockout round.
The Socceroos put up a fight against Chile in their opening match, though they ultimately lost. Against the Netherlands, Australia may have to park the bus and play for a draw. The talent gap between the two sides is wide.
3 p.m., Spain vs. Chile: Spain's opening-match loss put the defending champs in a precarious position, both in terms of points and goal differential. Spain is better than they showed, and that could spell trouble for Chile.
That being said, the Chileans won't back down easily. Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez, who scored in the opener, is no stranger to big games. But the South American side will be tested, with the opening quarter of an hour likely to be critical to the outcome.
6 p.m., Cameroon vs. Croatia: Tuesday's draw between Mexico and Brazil has upped the ante for Cameroon and Croatia. A loss from either team would eliminate them from contention at the 2014 World Cup.
Croatia should get a boost with the return of Mario Mandzukic, who led the team in scoring during qualifying but was suspended for their opening match. Cameroon was a bit of a longshot to qualify for the knockout round, and their path was made more difficult by losing to Mexico. The Croatians, buoyed by Mandzukic, should prove to be a handful for the African side.