BRASÏLIA: Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa produced a heroic performance in a 0-0 draw with Brazil and his Russian counterpart Igor Akinfeev was the villain in a 1-1 draw with South Korea as the World Cup produced more drama on Tuesday. While Ochoa kept Brazil at bay, the hapless Akinfeev was left to bury his head in his hands after he allowed Lee Keun-ho’s straightforward shot from 25 metres to slip through his grasp. Ochoa produced four world class saves to deny Paulinho, Neymar (twice) and Thiago Silva when they seemed certain to score in an intense, end-to-end match in tropical Fortaleza which left both teams with four points from two games in Group A.
Silva thought he had won the game in the closing minutes with a powerful header only to see his effort parried at point blank range by the Mexican keeper. Despite the scoreline, the match was anything but dull and the Mexicans enjoyed long periods of possession, bravely taking the game to the hosts in the second half. “I believe this was the best match of my life because this was a World Cup game and this is very important,” said Ochoa. “I don’t know whether I can think of another goalkeeper in memory ... someone who has done what Memo (Ochoa) did today,” Mexico coach Miguel Herrera told a news conference. Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari also praised Ochoa, describing his performance as spectacular, and could not resist pointing out that this time, unlike the controversial 3-1 win over Croatia, his side had a late penalty appeal turned down. “There was no penalty in favour of Brazil,” said ‘Big Phil’, shrugging his shoulders.
In the Group H clash in Cuiabá, Akinfeev’s blushes on 68 minutes were spared when veteran Alexander Kerzhakov pounced to equalise for Russia after more scrappy goalkeeping by Jung Sung-ryong six minutes later. Much-fancied Belgium were made to work hard for a 2-1 win over Algeria in Belo Horizonte after the North Africans took a shock lead with a Sofiane Feghouli penalty in the 25th minute. Portugal’s troubles continued after their 4-0 thrashing by Germany on Monday when left back Fabio Coentrao was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a thigh muscle injury. “It’s a very sad moment for me, and one that I want to forget as quickly as possible,” he told the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) website.
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