Five takes from Mexico's draw against Brazil
GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Mexico battled to a 0-0 draw against Brazil on Tuesday in Fortaleza in a game that will be remembered for the heroics of El Tri goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
The World Cup hosts had the better of the chances, but each time, Ochoa was equal to them. Mexico also had opportunities, mainly from long range.
- Carlisle: Three points: Underwhelming Brazil held
- Hernandez: El Tri grades
- Canales: Ochoa keeps Brazil scoreless in thriller
The result means Mexico is level with Brazil in Group A with four points, but just below the hosts on goal difference, with Croatia meeting Cameroon on Wednesday.
Here are five takes:
Ochoa ready for the big leagues
No disrespect to his Ligue 1 club Ajaccio, but Ochoa is ready for bigger and brighter things.
The 28-year-old pulled off the save of the World Cup so far to claw back Neymar's header in the 27th minute. It felt as though Ochoa was invincible after that, and he made three other quality stops in the second half.
He is a free agent, and his agent's phone likely will be busy in the coming days. This was the night Ochoa consolidated his starting place for Mexico, likely for years to come.
Qualifying is a distant nightmare
This time last year, Mexico had won just one in 10 games, was about to fold to Brazil in the Confederations Cup, then almost capitulate entirely in what remained of CONCACAF qualifying.
What a turnaround Tuesday's performance was from the nightmare, with players like Andres Guardado, Hector Moreno, Francisco "Maza" Rodriguez and Giovani dos Santos showing a completely different face from those dark days.
Vazquez had the game of his life
It may be unfair to pick out the Leon holding midfielder when others likes Moreno, Ochoa, Rodriguez and Guardado were also superb against Brazil, but Jose Juan "Gallito" Vazquez had never played against a team anywhere near as good as Brazil in a competitive game.
Aided by Guardado and Hector Herrera, Gallito seemed to be everywhere in the center of the field, becoming a constant nuisance for Brazil. He even went close with a couple of long-range efforts.
The 26-year-old from Celaya, Guanajuato worked as a laborer, in a bakery and in the fields before he turned professional. He even considered moving to the United States with his brother as a teenager. He has come a long way, and this was the pinnacle of his career thus far.
What can you say about the Mexico manager? His constant bickering with the fourth official on the sideline and often humorous statements to the media should take nothing away from what he has done with this team.
Guardado talked about the players feeling freer under "Piojo" and it shows on the pitch. Herrera's fluid, aggressive style suits Mexico, and he has the players believing.
The coach also has gotten big decisions right. Aging Rodriguez was chosen over the highly rated youngster Diego Reyes and was exceptional against Brazil, making a vital interception from a Bernard cross in the 49th minute.
Herrera admitted he wrestled with which keeper should get the start, but has been proved right with his Ochoa decision.
Even his relaxed style with the media and his confidence has resonated within Mexico, with fans fully behind the team.
Unity with fans
Sunday night in Fortaleza was strange. Mexico fans spontaneously gathered outside the team's hotel and serenaded the players, who filed out onto their balconies, gently warmed to the show and ended up down with the fans leading the songs and chants.
It was a special moment and one that showed the players are enjoying being together and being at the World Cup.
Herrera has also struck a chord with his statements about understanding some Mexico fans have sold cars and houses to be in Brazil and that the team will give their all as a minimum requirement.
The spirit in the Mexico camp seems to be very similar to what it was in that 2012 Olympic run, and that bodes well as the World Cup progresses.