World Cup Blog: Mexico spoil Brazilian party
08:38 18 June 2014
The flag-clad crowd at Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza were all set to celebrate another win for the hosts last night, but their team’s Mexican opponents, and their 20,000 travelling fans, had other ideas.
Before the match had even started the highlight reel was acquiring footage. During the national anthem, Brazilian poster boy Neymar, the two-goal hero from their opening 3-1 win against Croatia, was so overcome with emotion he started crying (this is his party after all).
The incident will no doubt have caused some of the millions of people watching to point and laugh, but in that moment the 22-year-old showed a passion absent from a lot of modern-day footballers, not least the England team who mumbled their way through God Save the Queen on Saturday night.
The match started frantically with Mexico on the front foot and Brazil, who had Ramires replacing the injured Hulk, having to deal with some fierce tackles from their Latin American peers.
The countless fouling, and theatrics, did nothing for the fluency of the match early on, and neither did Fred’s failure to keep himself onside.
The match burst into life in the 25th minute, when Neymar rose higher than veteran Rafael Marquez at the far post, only for his header to be clawed away quite brilliantly by the soon-to-be-trending Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
It wasn’t until another fine save from Ochoa in the 43rd minute that the Brazilian players produced for their fans, when captain Thiago Silva teed up his defensive partner David Luiz in the box, only for the keeper to deny him.
Ramires picked up the game’s first booking on the stroke of half time after cynically hacking down Paul Aguilar, his last action of the match as Bernard stepped into the fold for the second half.
He almost made an immediate impact too, but could only watch as his cross was headed away by Francisco Rodriguez with Neymar ready to pounce in the 48th minute.
From then on Mexico gained control of the match, with the Brazilians struggling to retain possession and boos ringing around the stadium.
Neymar was again denied by the brilliance of Ochoa in the 68th minute, when his low left-foot shot was instinctively turned round the post by the curly-haired stopper.
That chance, along with the ineffectual Fred’s departure, seemed to galvanize the samba boys, who were camped in the Mexico half until a breakaway resulted in Thiago Silva sything down substitute Javier Hernandez 20 yards out. The PSG defender knew exactly what he was doing, and even hugged the Man Utd striker as way of an apology.
There was only time for one more chance in the game, and again Ochoa came to the rescue to deny Thiago Silva from point-blank range, though the defender would have scored had he directed it anywhere else on target.
One poor attempt to win a penalty by Marcelo highlighted the Brazilian’s lack of invention on the night, and the final whistle brought a thoroughly deserved point for Mexico, who, like Brazil, have 4 points and are in a healthy position going into the final Group A games on Monday.
The other two teams in the group, Cameroon and Croatia, meet tonight at 11pm in Manaus.