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 meters to slip through his grasp.
Algeria ended their 28-year wait for a World Cup goal when they took
a shock lead against Belgium although it was not enough as the
highly-rated Europeans hit back to win 2-1 in the day's other match.
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 favor of Brazil," said 'Big Phil',
shrugging his shoulders.
Cameroon and Croatia, the other teams in the group, who are yet to
get off the mark, meet in Manuals on Wednesday.
In the Group H clash in Cuiaba, Akinfeev's blushes on 68 minutes
were spared when veteran Alexander Kerzhakov pounced to equalize for
Russia after more scrappy goalkeeping by Jung Sung-ryong six minutes
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.
It was Algeria’s first goal at the tournament since Djamel Zidane
scored against Northern Ireland in a 1-1 draw in 1986.
[to top of second column]
Algeria played two more games at that tournament and three at the
2010 World Cup without scoring.
The Desert Foxes kept the lead until the last 20 minutes when goals
from substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens turned the game
around, much to the anger of Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
"It's a major disappointment," he said. "I have a number of players
that are rather limited, they're young, they're not that
experienced, they can't play 90 minutes.
"Each Algerian player needs to improve his physical condition by 30
to 50 percent. The Belgian players are in much better shape."
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
Defending champions Spain, who made an even worse start than
Portugal when they were thrashed 5-1 by Netherlands in their opening
match, face Chile in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday.
Netherlands face Australia in Porto Alegre. "There was no euphoria
in the team. We have played Total Football. Nothing has changed in
that respect. We are applying the Dutch principles," said flamboyant
coach Louis van Gaal.
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Justin Palmer)
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