Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 18th 2014 Contents A78
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, June 18, 2014
FORTALEZA---Mexico drew 0-0 against
Brazil to claim a deserved point in World
Cup Group A at Estadio Castelao in For-
Brazil failed to hit top gear and couldn t
produce the level of performance that
defeated Croatia 3-1 in the tournament
opener, although Mexico goalkeeper Fran-
cisco Ochoa made a series of good saves to
keep the hosts out in a fantastic individual
Mexico obviously had not read the script
as they took the game to a stuttering Brazil,
whose best effort came through a Neymar
header which was saved on the line shortly
before the break.
Mexico did not create as many chances
but they did go close, most notably when
Hector Herrera flashed a strike narrowly
over the bar.
The result leaves both sides on four points
in the group, with one game each left to
Fred, who was largely ineffective and was
replaced by Jo midway through the second
half, set the tone for what proved to be a
largely frustrating match as he saw his early
effort hit the side-netting.
Brazil were again left empty-handed
shortly afterwards when Paulinho was
unable to control Marcelo s cut-back from
the left bye-line.
Brazil were, however, in control of the
ball in midfield despite being unable to find
an early breakthrough, although Fred did
not help their cause as he was caught offside
three times in quick succession.
Mexico striker Oribe Peralta then tested
the Brazil defence with a burst into the box
from the right wing, but a combination of
Thiago Silva and Marcelo halted the attack.
Mexico were unlucky not to be awarded
a corner kick after Herrera s blazing shot
was touched by Brazil keeper Julio Cesar
on its way over the bar.
Brazil went close on the counter-attack
with Paulinho unable to get on the end of
Neymar s cross before Mexico goalkeeper
Ochoa denied the Barcelona striker s header
on the line after Dani Alves sent a testing
ball into the six-yard box.
Neymar then saw Ochoa claim his corner
kick as Mexico held firm against the home
Marcelo got a shot away from range with
Neymar lurking on the edge of the box, but
it flashed wide of the post as the sides went
in deadlocked at 0-0 at half-time.
Bernard came on for Ramires at the start
of the second half and he came close to
setting up Neymar with a wicked cross after
Alves fired a fantastic long ball up the right
flank. Neymar was unable to finish it off,
though, and another chance went begging
Mexico then seemed to take something
of the upper hand as they mounted several
attacks, with Herrera again shooting over
Cesar s bar as Brazil s defending left a lot
to be desired.
Neymar sent another free-kick whistling
past Ochoa s post from 30 yards just after
the hour-mark as the frustrations continued
to grow amongst the partisan crowd, who
were expecting Brazil to dominate their
Central American opponents.
Ochoa made another good stop to deny
Neymar in a goalmouth scramble before
Brazil started to liven up as the second half
progressed, with Bernard and Neymar get-
ting the ball quickly to Jo, who flashed a
strike across the face of goal.
Thiago Silva could be considered fortunate
to escape with only a yellow card when he
hacked down Javier Hernandez but luckily
for the Brazil defender a wasteful free-kick
let his side off the hook in a dangerous posi-
Jo was almost played in by an inch perfect
through ball by Neymar, but the excellent
Ochoa rushed off his line to claim it and
halt the promising attack.
Ochoa again was the thorn in Brazil s side
with a fantastic reaction save to keep out
Thiago Silva s header from Neymar s 85th-
As the clock ticked down, Brazil had calls
for a penalty waved away when Marcelo
went down easily in the box before Mexico
won a corner with a minute remaining.
Nothing came from the set piece but
Andres Guardado landed the ball on the
roof of Cesar s net in another scare before
Raul Jimenez forced a save from the Toronto
FC goalkeeper. (AP)
Estadio Mineirao---Substitutes Marouane
Fellaini and Dries Mertens prevented Bel-
gium s much-hyped World Cup campaign
falling flat as they came from behind to
beat Algeria 2-1 in Group H at Estadio
Belgium, seen by many as genuine con-
tenders in Brazil, were losing to Sofiane
Feghouli s first-half penalty until coach Marc
Wilmots made all three substitutions by
the 65th minute.
First Fellaini levelled with a towering
header 20 minutes from time then Mertens,
sent on at the interval, rifled home Eden
Hazard s 80th-minute pass.
Kevin de Bruyne played a key role in both
goals having struggled as much as anyone
in the first period.
Belgium were ponderous throughout the
first half, despite enjoying the lion s share
Hazard and De Bruyne saw plenty of the
ball but struggled to break down an organised
Algeria leaving Romelu Lukaku isolated and
out of the game.
With Rafik Halliche and Madjid Bougherra
confidently marshalling the penalty area,
Belgium began to rely on longer-range
attempts---Daniel van Buyten s easily charged
down before Axel Witsel finally worked Rais
M Bolhi with a drive from 25 yards.
Algeria needed to make the most of their
own breaks and duly won a penalty with
their first serious foray.
Nabil Bentaleb started things by releasing
Faouzi Ghoulam on the left and his whipped
cross from the left was heading for Feghouli.
The striker might not have reached it but
Jan Vertonghen rendered that academic
when he made a mess of his tracking run
and felled his man.
Feghouli eyed Thibault Courtois all the
way as he rolled his shot home.
Belgium attempted to respond but were
De Bruyne and Vertonghen wasted a pair
of promising free-kicks and Witsel saw a
second decent strike saved after taking the
ball down on his chest.
Hazard s line-break gave Nacer Chadli
sight of goal before the interval but he shot
tamely at M Bolhi and was replaced by
Mertens at half-time.
The sides exchanged half-chances from
corners, Witsel heading over and Carl Med-
jani flicking past the far post.
By 65 minutes Wilmots had made two
more substitutions, Divock Origi and Fellaini
on for Lukaku and Mousa Dembele.
Origi had a great early chance, going one-
on-one with M Bolhi only to see his low
effort well stopped by the advancing keep-
er.But it was Fellaini who made the differ-
ence, rising to head De Bruyne s curling
cross in off the underside of the bar.
Wilmots changes continued to reap ben-
efits when Mertens put his side ahead 10
Brazil 0 vs Mexico 0
Belgium 2 (Marouane Fellaini 70, Dries
Mertens 80) vs Algeria 1 (Sofiane Feghouli 25
Russia 1 (Alexander Kerzhakov 74) vs Korea
Republic (Lee Keunho 68) 1
Cameroon vs Croatia, Manaus, 6 pm
Cameroon have won only one of their 13 World
Cup matches against European sides (2-1 v
Romania in 1990), drawing five and losing seven.
The Indomitable Lions have scored just seven
goals in their last 12 World Cup matches, and
never more than once during this run.
Croatia will have Mario Mandzukic available for
selection for the first time in this World Cup
finals tournament. No player scored more
headed goals than the Bayern Munich striker in
the top five European leagues in 2013-14 (7).
Croatia have not won any of their last five World
Cup matches (L3 D2), with their last WC finals
victory coming in 2002 versus Italy (2-1).
Spain vs Chile, Porto Alegre, noon
Chile have never beaten Spain in their 10
previous encounters (D2 L8).
Spain lost their opening game of the 2010 World
Cup finals (0-1 v Switzerland) but became the
first team to ever lift the World Cup trophy after
having lost their opening game of the
Alexis Sanchez has been involved in seven of the
last eight goals that Chile have scored (six
assists and one goal).
Spain have not lost back to back internationals
since October 2006 (2-3 v Northern Ireland and
0-2 v Sweden).
Australia vs Netherlands, Rio de Janeiro, 6 pm
Australia are unbeaten in their three previous
meetings against the Netherlands (W1 D2).
Their last encounter was on October 10, 2009 in
a Sydney friendly (0-0).
Robin van Persie has scored 10 goals in his last
nine appearances for Netherlands and Arjen
Robben has scored seven goals in seven.
Cahill (four goals, one assist) has now been
involved in 56% of Australia's goals (9) in World
Netherlands are unbeaten in their last 11 World
Cup group stage matches, winning eight and
drawing three. Their last group stage defeat
came back in 1994 versus Belgium.
Colombia vs Ivory Coast, Brasilia, noon
Japan vs Greece, Natal, 6 pm
Uruguay vs England, Sao Paulo, 3 pm
Brazil's Neymar, top, is challenged by Mexico's Francisco Rodriguez during the group A
World Cup soccer match between Brazil and Mexico at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza,
Brazil, yesterday. AP PHOTO
WORLD CUP GLANCE
Mexico waves aside hosts
Fellaini, Mertens put Belgium on solid ground
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