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Ronaldo’s Portugal held by Mexico at Confed Cup

June 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Cristiano Ronaldo brushed off speculation about his Real Madrid future, although Portugal conceded a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Mexico at the Confederations Cup on Sunday.

Mexico

Ronaldo teed up Ricardo Quaresma to fire Portugal ahead in the first half in Kazan, but the goal was cancelled out before the break by Mexico striker Javier Hernandez’s bullet header.

Cedric Soares restored Portugal’s lead on 86 minutes, but Hector Moreno’s stoppage-time header salvaged a point for Mexico in their Group A opener.

“We could have killed off the match but it didn’t happen. The draw is a fair result without doubt,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos, whose side wore black armbands in honour of the victims of a deadly forest fire back home.

“I would like to say something on behalf of my players. People are very sad in Portugal and the players are thinking of all those who are suffering from what’s happened.”

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio said his team deserved their point but admitted there was work to be done going forward.

“Hector Moreno’s goal handed Mexican football a huge result,” he said.

“We still need to work on our finishing, we’re not efficient enough in the final third of the pitch.

“The next match will be very tough because New Zealand will give it their all.”

Ronaldo, 32, is reportedly furious over a tax probe into the off-shore accounts dealing with his image rights, and has reportedly vowed to leave Spain.

According to Spanish paper Marca on Sunday, Real Madrid’s coach Zinedine Zidane even broke off his holiday to call Ronaldo to try to persuade his star not to quit the club.

But Portugal’s talisman was at his best in an action-packed first half in his team’s opening match, with hosts Russia and New Zealand still to come in the group.

Ronaldo’s superb volley looked to have helped Portugal take the lead, but the video assistant referee came to Mexico’s rescue after Nani had put the ball in the net.

When Ronaldo’s volley thumped the crossbar, Nani pounced on the rebound, but the video ref spotted that four players were offside.

However, Portugal, and Ronaldo, were not to be denied.

The Euro 2016 winners took the lead on 34 minutes when Ronaldo sprinted into the box and his beautifully-timed pass found Quaresma unmarked in the area.

The Besiktas winger drew Mexico’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and tapped home the opening goal.

But Mexico responded with Hernandez testing Portugal keeper Rui Patricio, before putting his side level.

Mexico’s all-time top scorer grabbed his 48th international goal from 93 appearances after some dreadful defending by Portugal.

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Raphael Guerreiro failed to deal with a cross into the box and Carlos Vela teed up Hernandez, who met the cross with a diving header.

After an explosive opening period, the second was a much tamer affair as both teams squandered half chances as the tempo dropped.

With time running out, Southampton right-back Cedric pounced on a loose ball and slammed home Portugal’s second goal.

But with the 90 minutes up, Mexican defender Moreno rose highest from the final corner of the game to head in the equaliser.

Ronaldo hits 500th goal as Real reach world final

December 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 500th club goal Thursday as Real Madrid eased past Mexico’s Club America 2-0 to reach the Club World Cup final in Japan.

MAdrid

The Spanish giants will face shock finalists Kashima Antlers, the J-League champions, in Yokohama on Sunday as they look to capture their second world title in three years and fifth in total.

“Our sole aim was to reach the final — so it’s job done,” Real coach Zinedine Zidane told reporters after goals from Karim Benzema and Ronaldo extended his side’s club record unbeaten run to 36 matches in all competitions.

“We didn’t have a great rhythm in the first half, but in the second half we created more chances and Cristiano was able to kill the game off so I’m very happy,” added the Frenchman.

“It was a long flight to Japan and we have very few days to rest and prepare for the final, but we have come here to win this Club World Cup.”

His countryman Benzema said: “It was a hard game against a tough team. The conditions were difficult too with the long journey we’ve had, but we played well and won the game — now for the final.”

With Ronaldo firing blanks until scoring with virtually the last kick of the game, Benzema struck in first-half stoppage time, finishing clinically with the outside of his right boot after a deft pass from Toni Kroos.

Ronaldo, who scooped his fourth Ballon d’Or earlier this week, had already squandered a gilt-edged opportunity by heading against the post.

The Portuguese superstar also saw two stinging efforts blocked by goalkeeper Moises Munoz but his dogged persistence paid off when he swept home from a tight angle deep into injury time.

Confusion followed, however, when it appeared the goal could be ruled out using the video technology being trialled by FIFA in Japan.

Ronaldo’s face turned to thunder as the Mexicans protested he had been offside — until Paraguayan referee Enrique Caceres finally indicated that the goal stood.

“It’s a new invention but to be honest I don’t like it,” said man of the match Luka Modric when asked about video replays.

“It causes confusion. I hope they don’t continue with this system because for me it is not football.”

Zidane refused to criticise the technology, although his comments hardly amounted to a ringing endorsement either.

“If you ask my personal impression, it could cause problems,” he said. “But if it’s FIFA policy then we have to get used to it. We don’t have the power to decide. Maybe it will help make things clear and transparent.”

The 31-year-old Ronaldo has hit a remarkable 377 goals in 366 games for Real with 118 more in 292 games for Manchester United and five in 31 for Sporting before that.

Club America coach Ricardo La Volpe insisted his side had been unfortunate to lose.

“I think the luck was against,” growled the firebrand Argentine.

“Real Madrid were not the better team. I told the players they can be proud of the way they fought,” he added. “It was a very tight game which we dominated for periods, but we were not aggressive enough. We just couldn’t find the final ball.”

Vargas scores four as Chile thrash Mexico 7-0

June 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Eduardo Vargas scored four goals as holders Chile sent Mexico spinning to a historic 7-0 defeat to reach the semi-finals of the Copa America Centenario here Saturday.

CHile

Hoffenheim forward Vargas completed a hat-trick in 13 devastating minutes either side of half-time to send Chile into a semi-final against Colombia in Chicago on Wednesday.

Vargas later dedicated his performance to his mother, who was earlier this week diagnosed with a heart problem in his homeland.

“I’m very happy with the performance, I dedicate it to my mum and my family,” Vargas said.

“We started this tournament badly but we’re getting stronger and stronger with every match,” he added.

The drubbing was Mexico’s worst ever defeat in the finals of a major tournament. Their previous biggest loss was a 6-0 rout by West Germany at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

The rout was also only one goal away from equalling Mexico’s heaviest ever defeat in any international, an 8-0 thrashing by England in London in 1961.

“I offer my sincere apologies to the Mexican fans, to all the Mexican people,” Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio said afterwards.

“What we saw today was a disgrace, an accident of football,” he added. “Obviously there are more important things in the world than football, but that was a very poor display.

“Chile had a great collective performance and extraordinary performance from its stars,” Osorio added. “But there is not seven goals difference between Chilean and Mexican football.”

Vargas grabbed his fourth goal in the 74th minute to give Chile a 6-0 lead.

But the punishment did not finish there with Edson Puch adding a seventh in the 88th minute for his second of the match.

Chile, winners of last year’s Copa America on home soil, had faced an intimidating atmosphere in front of a crowd of 70,547 people at the Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers.

But despite the overwhelmingly pro-Mexico crowd, Chile were quicker to settle, with Puch opening the scoring on 16 minutes when he steered in a rebound from Marcelo Diaz’s shot after Guillermo Ochoa could only parry away.

Vargas grabbed a second a minute before half-time to stun the crowd into silence as the teams headed in for the break.

Chile then cut loose early in the second half with slick inter-play ripping apart a feeble Mexican defense at will.

Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez made it 3-0 in the 49th minute before two more goals from Vargas in the 52nd and 57th minutes piled on the agony for Mexico.

Several Mexican players visibly wilted in the face of the onslaught, and for periods the game resembled a training exercise for Chile as they swept forward relentlessly.

Vargas’s fourth made it 6-0 on the night before Puch then toe-poked home to complete the scoring.

Brazilian referee Heber Lopes spared Mexico the possibility of greater humiliation, whistling for full-time almost on the stroke of 90 minutes, with no time added on.

Red faces as wrong anthem played before Copa America match

June 6, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

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Copa America organisers were left red-faced on Sunday after playing the wrong national anthem for Uruguay before their match against Mexico in Arizona.

Soccer fans look on prior to the match between Mexico and Uruguay during the group play stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Uruguay players lined up on the pitch for their anthem, “Orientales, la Patria o la Tumba”, ahead of their tournament opener but were greeted instead by the national anthem of Chile at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

Most of the Uruguay players were expressionless at first, before their poker faces gave way to some looks of bemusement.

Organisers quickly sent out an apology.

“We sincerely apologise to the Uruguayan Federation, the Uruguay National Team, the people of Uruguay and to the fans for this mistake. We will work with all parties involved to ensure such an error does not occur again,” the statement said.

The mistake capped off an ignominious opening weekend to the tournament, which the United States is hosting for the first time, with few goals, some mediocre games and, in some cases, sparse crowds.

Uruguay’s day did not get better as they were beaten 3-1 by the Mexicans.

Cotto says boxing win will be enough against Alvarez

November 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Puerto Rican middleweight great Miguel Cotto says he doesn’t need a world title to lend importance to his Saturday showdown with Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

Cotto

“I don’t need a belt to fight Canelo,” said Cotto, who was stripped of his World Boxing Council crown on Tuesday over failure to pay the $300,000 sanctioning fee they demanded for a world title bout.

Alvarez and his camp stumped up their $300,000, and the former WBC and World Boxing Association super welterweight world champion can claim the vacant WBC title with a victory.

Cotto said Wednesday he had offered the WBC $125,000, but the sanctioning body rejected it. He was unrepentant over failing to pay the $300,000 — or a further $800,000 step-aside fee to mandatory challenger Gennady Golovkin.

The 34-year-old Puerto Rican, winner of world titles in four weight divisions, takes a record of 40-4 with 33 knockouts into the bout.

Trainer Freddie Roach said Cotto is in as good a shape as he has ever seen him.

“We are going to box a lot in this fight,” Roach said. “We’re not just going out there looking for a knockout. I want him using his foot speed and his angles. He’s a more complete fighter now than ever.”

But Roach admits he’d love to see Cotto knock out Alvarez — then call out Floyd Mayweather to put his 49-0 record on the line.

“Miguel always tells me that if he had me in his corner when he fought Mayweather he would have knocked him out,” Roach said. “I think Miguel could pull off the strategy I have to beat Mayweather. I think that would be a good fight for him.”

But first there’s the 25-year-old Alvarez, 45-1-1 with 32 knockouts.

The bout is being fought at a 155-pound catchweight, and the Mexican’s power — amply demonstrated in a spectacular knockout of James Kirkland in May — could trouble Cotto.

“At this particular point, I feel very solid,” Alvarez said. “I’m ready and I’m going to show it on Saturday.”

On the undercard at Mandalay Bay, Japan’s WBC super featherweight champion Takashi Miura defends his title against unbeaten Francisco Vargas.

“I am motivated because of the streak that Miura has built against other Mexican fighters,” said Vargas, who brings a record of 22-0-1 with 16 knockouts to his first world title bout.

Miura dethroned Gamaliel Diaz on April 8, 2013 and has since defeated Mexico’s Sergio Thompson, Dante Jardon and Edgar Puerta. He stopped Australia’s Billy Dib in three rounds in Tokyo on May 1 to take his record to 29-2-2 with 22 knockouts.

Former unified junior featherweight world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, stripped of his belts because of inactivity, will return to the ring on the undercard against Drian Francisco.

Hamilton sees no reason to help Rosberg

October 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton said he saw little reason to try and help Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and finish runner-up in the Formula One standings.

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain listens to a question during an after race press conference after winning the U.S. F1 Grand Prix as teammate and second placed finisher Nico Rosberg of Germany (L) looks on at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas... REUTERS/MIKE STONE

The Briton also told reporters at the Mexican Grand Prix that the two drivers had not discussed their first corner coming together at last weekend’s U.S. Grand Prix or a hat-tossing incident before the podium ceremonies.

“We haven’t spoken, not that I think we really need to,” said Hamilton, who won his 10th race of the season in Texas last Sunday to clinch his third title.

“The team has not asked me to support him…as I’m here to win the race.

“The team have won the constructors’ championship so I think from here on there’s not really a huge benefit to the team for me to start helping. We’ll see what (motorsport director) Toto (Wolff) wants me to do.”

Rosberg is four points behind Vettel with three races remaining and, after three wins and seven second places in 16 races so far, should be able to overtake his four times champion compatriot.

Asked why he saw no need for talks to clear the air, Hamilton said: “I’m very easy-going and so I never really have any problems.

“I think Toto feels that he needs to perhaps sit with Nico to see where his head’s at. Obviously they don’t want any tension in the team.

“Generally we do often come together and just keep it transparent… I’m sure we will sit down and see what Nico’s feeling and whatever emotions he has and try and dilute them and move on.”

Rosberg had started on pole in Austin but Hamilton had the inside line into the first corner and the two banged wheels, with the German pushed wide and down into fourth place.

He recovered to retake the lead but then gifted the race win, and championship, to Hamilton when he made a late mistake while leading.

Afterwards, Hamilton tossed him the second placed finisher’s cap in the waiting room for the podium and had it flung straight back at him.

The Briton called the incident “pretty funny” and said there was not much to add.

Mexico fire coach Herrera after alleged punching incident

July 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Miguel Herrera, Mexico’s national football team coach, was fired on Tuesday, a day after he allegedly punched a reporter who had criticized his team’s performance in the recent Copa America and Gold Cup tournaments.

Miguel Herrera gestures during a news conference, ahead of the Copa America soccer tournament at Estadio El Teniente in Rancagua, Chile June 18, 2015. REUTERS/CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS

“After evaluating the situation and listening to everyone that makes up this family, I’ve made the decision to remove Miguel Herrera from his post,” Decio de Maria, president of the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), told a news conference as he announced Herrera’s termination.

“As far as what Miguel and I discussed, the only thing I can say is that it was very tough for Miguel,” he said.

Christian Martinoli, a sports reporter for Mexico’s TV Azteca, said on Monday that Herrera threatened him then hit him in the neck at Philadelphia’s airport as the Mexican team were heading home after a 3-1 victory against Jamaica to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament.

De Maria said Herrera had apologised about the airport incident, but speaking on local radio, he added: “You can’t respond to aggression with aggression.”

A new coach would be named before September, de Maria said.

TV Azteca’s Martinoli had strongly criticized Herrera during the team’s group stage exit from the 2015 Copa America in Chile.

TV Azteca’s parent company, Grupo Salinas, had called on the FMF to launch an immediate investigation into the incident.

The row followed a separate controversy last month. During elections shortly before the Copa America, Herrera had tweeted his support for Mexico’s Green Party, prompting the FMF to say it would fine him for a breach of ethics.

Herrera came into the job near the end of 2013 after Mexico had sacked three previous coaches as the team nearly failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Scraping through the CONCACAF qualifiers in fourth place, Mexico needed a playoff victory over Oceania group winners New Zealand to secure their berth.

During his tenure as coach, Herrera led the Mexican squad to 19 victories, 11 ties and 7 losses.

Nicknamed “El Piojo,” or “The Louse” in Spanish, Herrera’s animated, energetic persona made him a star in Mexico, but his team performed poorly in Chile as an invitee to the Copa America, the South American championship, failing to win a single game.

That was a blow for Mexico, which had inherited a squad with a number of promising young players from the under-23 side that in 2012 won Olympic gold in London.

Mexico will now be looking for a new head coach ahead of an Oct. 9 playoff against the United States for CONCACAF’s berth at the Confederations Cup in 2017 followed by the qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup, both of which will be hosted by Russia.

Among the potential successors to Herrera are Mexican league coaches Gustavo Matosas of Atlas and Pedro Caixinha of Santos Laguna, former national coach Victor Manuel Vucetich and Marcelo Bielsa, head of French team Olympique de Marseille.

Mexico beat Jamaica for CONCACAF Gold Cup

July 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Mexico spoiled Jamaica’s first trip to the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final with a dominant 3-1 triumph on Sunday that gave them a record seventh Cup title.

Philadelphia, PA, USA; Mexico celebrates with the Gold Cup after winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup final match against Jamaica at Lincoln Financial Field. Mexico won 3-1. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jamaica had become the first Caribbean team to reach the final, but El Tri stole the storyline at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field by winning their third Cup championship from the last four played.

Despite a fast and inspired start by the Jamaicans, Mexico quickly turned the tide and got goals from Andres Guardado, Jesus Corona and Oribe Peralta in the victory.

Mexico will now play the United States on Oct. 9 in a playoff for the region’s berth in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Against Jamaica, Mexico weathered an early attack and took control in the 31st minute where Guardado took a cross and finished with a beautiful left-footed volley into the upper right corner.

It was his sixth goal of the tournament, one less thanClint Dempsey of the United States, who took the tournament’s Golden Boot Award.

Guardado won the tournament’s Golden Ball Award as the top player.

Jamaica defensive miscues by Michael Hector led to the next two goals from Mexico.

In the 47th minute, Corona took the ball from Hector and finished it himself. In the 61st minute, Hector missed a chance to clear from in front of the goal and that led to Peralta’s score.

Darren Mattocks scored Jamaica’s only goal in the 80th minute, scoring for his second successive game.

Despite the defeat, Jamaica remained proud of their accomplishment.

“It’s tough but I couldn’t be more proud of my team right now,” said Jamaica’s Giles Barnes. “We have a lot to look forward to in the future.”

Mexico reached the final on some controversial penalty calls in their semi-final victory over Panama, but they proved their worth decisively in the final.

Mexico’s Chicharito breaks collarbone, out of Gold Cup

July 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Manchester United striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez suffered a broken collarbone playing for Mexico in a goal-less friendly Wednesday against Honduras and is expected to miss the upcoming Gold Cup.

chicharito

It was a first-half injury that took out the 27-year-old Guadalajara native in the Mexicans’ final tune-up match before the biennial North American regional championship tournament that begins next week.

Hernandez has 40 goals in 73 caps for Mexico and losing him is a major blow to Mexican hopes of taking the Gold Cup crown for a seventh time in 13 editions of the event, having won in 1993, 1996 and 1998, 2003, 2009 and 2011.

Estimates from match broadcaster ESPN were that “Chicharito” would need four to six weeks to recover.

The injury took place when Hernandez was fouled from behind by Honduran defender Brayan Beckeles as he went to play the ball and fell awkwardly onto his right arm and shoulder.

He rose to a seated position and pointed to his right shoulder as he motioned for a trainer.

While his teammates played the second half, Hernandez was taken to a local hospital.

“Chicharito” has 59 goals in 154 appearances for Manchester United and he scored nine goals in 33 matches for Real Madrid last season on loan.

The Mexican team enters the Gold Cup on a seven-match winless streak, its longest since 2001.

Mexico is set to face Cuba, Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago in Gold Cup group stage matches.

Chile held, Bolivia upset Ecuador in Copa goal-fest

June 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Mexico snatched a pulsating 3-3 draw with Chile while Bolivia downed Ecuador in a five-goal thriller as the Copa America laid on a feast of attacking football on Monday.

Bolivia

A dramatic day of action in Group A saw Bolivia secure their first win in the tournament in 18 years with a 3-2 victory over Ecuador in Valparaiso before an epic battle between Chile and Mexico in Santiago.

Chile, 2-0 winners over Ecuador in their opening game, looked to have booked their place in the quarter-finals after two goals from Juventus star Arturo Vidal helped them into a 3-2 lead.

But a 66th-minute equaliser from Vicente Vuoso, his second of the match, earned a share of the points for Mexico, who are one of two teams from outside South America invited to take part in this year’s tournament.

Vuoso had given Mexico the lead after only 21 minutes, tucking away Juan Carlos Medina’s cross after a sweeping counter-attack, only for Vidal to level a minute later with a thunderous header.

Mexico grabbed the lead again on 29 minutes when Atletico Madrid striker Raul Jimenez headed home Adrian Aldrete’s corner to make it 2-1.

Chile again hit back rapidly however with Eduardo Vargas equalising shortly before the break.

Vidal then struck a 55th-minute penalty to put Chile ahead for the first time in the match, only for Vuoso to frustrate the home side with his second.

Chile had what looked like a legitimate Alexis Sanchez goal ruled out for offside with 10 minutes to go as Mexico survived a late onslaught to claim a share of the points.

Chile now top Group A on goal difference as they prepare to meet Bolivia in their final first round match on Friday.

Man-of-the-match Vidal said ‘La Roja’ would need to improve to be sure of winning the group.

“There are several things we need to improve if we want to beat Bolivia, but the important thing is we improved on our performance from the first match today,” Vidal said.

“It’s nice to be scoring goals for the team, but the most important thing is our objective to be champions,” he added.

Bolivia, who have a formidable record when playing at home in the thin air of La Paz, secured their first victory on foreign soil in a competitive match in 20 years when they beat Ecuador earlier Monday.

The win was also Bolivia’s first in the Copa America since 1997, and means they are now firmly in contention to qualify for the second round.

Bolivia assured themselves of victory in the opening 45 minutes, punishing a series of mistakes by Ecuador to race into a 3-0 lead.

Veteran captain Ronald Raldes opened the scoring, taking advantage of poor marking by Ecuador to stoop low and head home a corner from Swedish-born midfielder Martin Smedberg-Dalence in the fifth minute.

Smedberg-Dalence turned goalscorer in the 18th minute to put Bolivia 2-0 up, curling home a superb shot from the edge of the area.

A bizarre sequence of events ultimately saw Bolivia go 3-0 up. Enner Valencia was awarded a dubious penalty for Ecuador which he duly converted before being ordered to take it again after Miller Bolanos encroached in the area.

Bolivia goalkeeper Romel Quinonez then saved the second attempt and moments later the tables were turned on Ecuador when Frickson Erazo conceded a spot-kick for a rash high boot on Damian Lizio.

China-based striker Marcelo Martins stepped up to make it 3-0.

There appeared to be no way back for Ecuador but Valencia struck early in the second half to give his side hope and Bolanos lashed in a stunning 25-yard effort on 81 minutes to set up a frantic finale.

But Bolivia keeper Quinonez was equal to the onslaught as the minnows held on for a famous win.

England rekindle World Cup hopes with 2-1 Mexico win

June 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Fran Kirby and Karen Carney rekindled England’s World Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Mexico at the women’s tournament on Saturday.

England

Mark Sampson’s side desperately needed a win in their Group F tie after losing their opening match to France 1-0 in Moncton.

But the three-time quarter-finalists got back on track in New Brunswick when Kirby, dubbed ‘our mini Messi’ by Sampson, fired past Mexican goalie Cecilia Santiago on 71 minutes for her third international goal.

Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar admitted England’s second-half substitutes Carney and Alex Greenwood changed the face of the game.

“England started to be better,” he said.

“When their substitutions were made we took time to adjust and were in a deep hole. Now we have a game which is life and death against France.

“France are a candidate to be world champions and we’ll have to have a perfect match. Colombia and France was a very decisive game.”

France suffered a shock 2-0 defeat to Colombia in their second group game.

“We have an opportunity. It’s a very remote one but I think we have been missing some details and we know what we have to work on,” added the Mexico coach.

England’s first goal of the tournament ignited the ‘Three Lionesses’ with substitute Carney heading in the second off a pinpoint Alex Greenwood cross eight minutes from time.

“This is an important result from Team England,” said Sampson.

“We got a lot of stick after the France game. The players had to handle extra pressure knowing that with a loss we would have been on our way home.

“We were fully aware of the France-Colombia result and knew it was an important day for England.

“We knew Mexico would be difficult to break down. It was about building momentum and getting three points.”

The Welsh coach added: “I’m not only pleased with the impact of the substitutes but with the group. I’m disappointed though that we conceded a late one.”

England had the edge over Mexico in the opening half but grabbed control thanks to Kirby’s goal five minutes after Sampson substituted Jill Scott with Birmingham City winger Carney.

There had been first-half efforts from Kirby, Toni Duggan and Eniola Aluko with the latter clipping the crossbar just before the break.

Substitute Fabiola Ibarra got one back for the Mexicans one minute into injury time afterEngland goalie Karen Bardsley spilled a shot.

“We fought until the end and gave it everything,” said Ibarra. “We’re still alive thanks to this goal.”

Colombia, who earlier drew 1-1 with Mexico, lead Group F with four points after two games.

England and France now have three points with 25th-ranked Mexico on one.

With all to play for, England next take on Colombia in the final group game on Wednesday with Mexico up against France.

The top two teams in each group advance to the knock-out round along with the four best third-place finishers.

Late Colombia goal denies Mexico first World Cup win

June 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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A late goal from Daniela Montoya allowed Colombia to escape with a 1-1 draw against Mexico in their Group F opener at the Women’s World Cup in Moncton on Tuesday.

Jun 9, 2015; Moncton, New Brunswick, CAN; Mexico defender Valeria Miranda (5) and Colombia midfielder Daniela Montoya (6) battle for the ball during the second half in a Group F soccer match in the 2015 FIFA women's World Cup at Moncton Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kryger-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a back pass from Tatiana Ariza, Montoya drilled home a shot from just outside the penalty area that rang off the crossbar in the 82nd minute to deny Mexico a first World Cup win.

Mexico was the better team dominating possession, grabbing the early lead on a brilliant 36th minute strike from midfielder Veronica Perez.

El Tri thought it had pulled out a miracle finish in injury time when striker Charlyn Corral’s shot rolled across the goal line only to have it waved off when teammate Stephany Mayor was called for a foul on Colombia’s Angela Clavijo.

Ranked 26th in the world, Mexico will play England in its next game, while number 28 Colombia will face France.

Brazil extend winning run to nine with win over Mexico

June 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Brazil took their winning run under coach Dunga to nine on Sunday when first-half goals gave them a comfortable 2-0 win over Mexico in Sao Paulo.

Brazil's Philippe Coutinho celebrates after scoring against Mexico during a friendly soccer match in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 7, 2015. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

A week before they kick off their Copa America campaign against Peru, Brazil dominated a poor warm up match though there was a moment of brilliant by Philippe Coutino when they opened the scoring after 27 minutes.

The Liverpool midfielder dropped a shoulder and wafted past a Mexican defender before slotting the ball home from a tight angle to notch his first international goal.

Diego Tardelli doubled their lead nine minutes later after good work by Elias. The Corinthians midfielder nutmegged a Mexican defender and his pass left Tardelli with the simplest of finishes from six yards.

“It was good to come home and play at home again,” said central defender David Luiz. “We’re happy with the win and way we won.”

The game was played at a slow pace, especially in a second half that had 12 substitutions and hardly a shot at goal.

Mexico were without Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez, both of whom were rested for next month’s Gold Cup in the US.

Brazil, meanwhile, were missing Neymar, who was celebrating Barcelona’s Champions League triumph over Juventus.

The win means Brazil have won all nine of their games since Dunga took over in the wake of their 2014 World Cup 7-1 humiliation by Germany, a run that includes victories over Colombia, Chile, Argentina and France.

Brazil now play one more friendly against Honduras on Wednesday before heading to Chile. They kick off their Copa America campaign against Peru on June 14 before further Group C games against Venezuela and Colombia.

Mexico’s first Copa match is against Bolivia on June 12. They also face Ecuador and hosts Chile.

World Cup goalkeepers earn ‘respect’

July 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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(AFP) – Lionel Messi, Neymar and Robin van Persie make the headlines, but the World Cup’s real heroes have been goalkeepers like Tim Howard, Guillermo Ochoa and Julio Cesar who throw themselves into the line of fire.

“Two words .. TIM HOWARD #respect,” was the simple Twitter comment made by Belgium’s captain Vincent Kompany within minutes of his country finally beating the United States in the last 16 on Tuesday.

Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku, who hit the winning goal, and Dries Mertens, both hugged Howard at the end of their 120-minute onslaught on the 35-year-old Everton goalkeeper.

Howard’s 16 saves, some at point blank range, two spectacularly flicked over the crossbar, were a record for a goalkeeper in a World Cup match since 1966.

The US defence seemed unable to resist the Belgian attack of Mertens, Divock Origi and Eden Hazard. US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Howard kept the team in the game right to the end. The Americans had chances to equalise right until the final seconds.

“How Tim played tonight was just phenomenal,” Klinsmann said. “As the game went on, on the back of Tim’s performance we got back in the game.”

Similar compliments have been paid to Ochoa for giving Mexico an unlikely 0-0 draw with Brazil in Group A, and Cesar for his heroics in keeping Chile at bay in a game Brazil won to reach the quarter finals.

Costa Rica’s ‘keeper Keylor Navas was the hero as his side, down to 10 men, beat Greece in their last 16 game.

Germany’s Manuel Neuer has been hailed for rushing out of his penalty area to clear the ball as North African minnows Algeria poured forward on Monday.

“He reacted like a libero and protected us from many situations that smelled of danger,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew.

Neuer has a good job with Bayern Munich, but for some of the other goalkeepers, the brilliant performances could be a career saver.

 

Mexico’s Ochoa, who held Brazil at bay for 90 minutes, was without a club after his French side Ajaccio were relegated to the second division and his contract ran out last month.

One sprawling one-handed save from a powerful header by Brazil striker Neymar has been compared to the legendary stop by England’s Gordon Banks against Brazil’s Pele at the 1970 World Cup.

“I feel really flattered,” Ochoa, 29, said of the comparison. “Of course I’d rather have less work,” he added.

His shift in Fortaleza has earned interest from English sides including Liverpool, according to media reports.

Costa Rica’s Navas was another goalkeeper to earn man-of-the-match honours as his side beat Greece to reach the quarter finals for the first time.

Navas has been hailed as his country’s new “Lucky Rabbit”, the nickname for Luis Gabelo Conejo, who kept goal for Costa Rica at the 1990 World Cup finals.

Having thwarted Italy and Uruguay in landmark group victories, Navas again performed spectacular gymnastics as he punched away a spot kick by Greece’s Fanis Gekas in a penalty shootout.

Navas who plays in Spain for Levante said: “I have already faced great players and I am not scared. It’s a good challenge for me to play against the best.”

Brazil’s Julio Cesar hopes his two penalty shootout saves against Chile will turn him from a national villain to a respected figure alongside the country’s other football legends.

The 34-year-old has faced national humiliation since his mistake was blamed for Brazil’s defeat to the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup quarter final.

Cesar revealed that he took a religious cross, given to him by his reserve Victor, when he went into the goal for the Chile shootout. He saved two penalties and Chilean Gonzalo Jara’s kick came off a post and just managed to stay out of the goal.

“Julio Cesar and the goalpost save Brazil from humiliation at home,” said Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper’s front page.

“After the (2010) World Cup to be labelled as the villain, it was very bad for me,” Cesar said. “I got the support of my family who just supported me. This allows me to have the necessary strength to go forward,” said the emotional keeper fighting back tears.

 

Dutch eye last four after great Mexican escape

July 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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(Reuters) – They were minutes away from elimination against Mexico but having pulled off one of the great escapes of the World Cup, the Dutch are in a strong position to reach the semifinals.

With two minutes to play against the Mexicans in Sunday’s second-round clash, Louis van Gaal’s side were 1-0 down and heading for the exit.

But midfielder Wesley Sneijder pulled them level before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar crashed home their winner from the penalty spot in the 94th minute.

“Orange Miracle” ran the headline in the online edition of leading Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. “The Dutch team stood on the brink of the abyss.”

Several papers analysed the controversial Dutch penalty that gave them their winner after Arjen Robben went down in the box under a challenge from Mexican captain Rafael Marquez.

Marquez clearly stepped on Robben’s toe as the Dutchman tried to wriggle past him but, not for the first time in the match or his career, Robben made the most of the incident by going down in dramatic style.

Robben later insisted it was a penalty although admitted to diving earlier in the match, describing his own behaviour on that occasion as “stupid”.

The Dutch now face Costa Rica on Saturday in Salvador, scene of their 5-1 demolition of defending champions Spain in their opening match of the tournament.

And although they will be wary of the Central Americans, they will be overwhelming favourites to beat them.

Costa Rica, one of the biggest surprises of the tournament so far, had defender Oscar Duarte sent off and he will be suspended for the quarter-final. They will also probably be without fellow defender Roy Miller, who has a hamstring injury.

Their gruelling defeat of Greece in a penalty shootout on Sunday may also take its toll. They played for nearly an hour with 10 men and over the full match covered a remarkable 131 kilometres (80 miles) of ground between them.

Van Gaal’s main injury worry is to key midfielder Nigel de Jong, who had to be substituted after just nine minutes against the Mexicans.

“It’s a groin injury,” Van Gaal said. “He is one of the most important elements in the team, so that was a big drawback, a big setback for us.”

On the plus side, defender Bruno Martins Indi made a successful return for the Dutch having missed their previous match with concussion.

Robin van Persie had an unusually quiet match against the Mexicans and was substituted late on, but Van Gaal confirmed the striker was not injured.

“I took him off for tactical reasons,” he said.

Late Dutch double hands Mexico second-round exit

June 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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(Reuters) – Netherlands substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar set up one goal and converted a penalty in the dying minutes as they recovered to beat Mexico 2-1 in an astonishing finale to their World Cup last 16 clash on Sunday.

The result condemned the unfortunate Mexicans, who were 1-0 up with two minutes to go and seemingly headed for the last eight for the first time since 1986, to a sixth second-round exit in six consecutive tournaments.

Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder broke Mexican hearts when he drilled home an unstoppable half-volley to equalise after a knock down from Huntelaar following a corner.

With extra time looming, the Netherlands’ livewire winger Arjen Robben weaved into the penalty area and went down under a challenge from Mexico captain Rafael Marquez.

The Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca pointed to the spot and Huntelaar calmly sent goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa the wrong way with a perfectly executed penalty kick.

The Dutch, who were on the back foot for much of the game, will play either Greece or Costa Rica in Salvador next Saturday and will fancy their chances of making the last four.

It was a heart-breaking end for Mexico, who have now reached the last 16 at every World Cup from 1994 and always lost.

Their last quarter-final appearance was in 1986 on home soil and the only other time they made it to the last eight was in 1970, when the finals were also in Mexico.

“The tension was unbelievable, I’ve never lived through anything like that,” Dutch defender Daley Blind said. “We showed a lot of character in coming back. We couldn’t find our men with our passes in the first half, we struggled to get to the ball, but we came back stronger in the second.”

DIVING CLAIMS

Robben had two earlier appeals for penalties turned down, and Mexico coach Miguel Herrera accused the Dutchman of diving.

“Three times he dived,” he said. “We’d done really well but then we sit back and we start to give chances to a team that hadn’t done anything.”

Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal praised his players’ stamina on a searingly hot day at the Castelao arena.

“Until the very last minute we were fresher and fitter than the Mexicans,” he said. “My players deserve a big compliment. Not only did they have belief and faith that they could perform today, they were also fit for this match.”

Mexico dominated the early exchanges while the Netherlands’ best chance of the first half came at the end, when some sloppy Mexican defending let Robben in on goal.

As he teed up a shot, defender Hector Moreno intervened with a desperate sliding tackle and appeared to catch Robben’s trailing foot. The Dutchman went down and appealed for a penalty but the referee waved play on.

The Mexicans took the lead just after the break through striker Giovani Dos Santos, who chested the ball down 30 metres from goal before firing a low left-foot shot into the bottom corner of the net.

The Dutch almost equalised 10 minutes later when their big centre back Stefan De Vrij forced a brilliant reflex save from Guillermo Ochoa in the Mexican goal. He parried the effort on to his left hand post and his defenders cleared it to safety.

Then came the Netherlands onslaught and the last-gasp drama, which saw them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and keeps alive their hopes of winning the World Cup for the first time.

Mexico down Croatia to set up Dutch date

June 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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(AFP) – Mexico will meet the Netherlands in the last 16 of the World Cup after veteran captain Rafael Marquez helped steer them to Monday’s 3-1 win and eliminate ten-man Croatia.

Mexico needed just to avoid defeat in Recife to take their place in the knockout phase, but three goals in ten second-half minutes killed off Croatia’s hopes.

The Mexicans needed more than an hour to break the deadlock at the Arena Pernambuco before the floodgates finally burst.

The 35-year-old Marquez, captaining his country at a record fourth finals, scored with a header on 72 minutes before Andres Guardado grabbed Mexico’s second.

Substitute Javier Hernandez then netted their third in quick succession to book their Dutch showdown at 1300 local time (1600GMT) on Sunday in Fortaleza.

“That is one of the happiest days of my life,” beamed Mexico coach Miguel Herrera.

“It was a hard fight, but my team pulled through.”

Ivan Perisic grabbed a late consolation for the Croats before replacement forward Ante Rebic was sent off just before the final whistle.

Croatia bow out by finishing third in the group after their opening 3-1 defeat to Brazil and 4-0 trouncing of Cameroon, while Mexico finish second in the table to Brazil on goal difference.

“We kept the game open for a long time, but two corners decided the game,” said Croatia coach Niko Kovac.

“We weren’t bad, but the opponent was better today.”

Kovac had recalled defender Sime Vrsaljko for Croatia, with left-back Danijel Pranjic pushing up into midfield, but it was a move that ultimately didn’t pay off.

The Mexicans were unchanged from the side that held hosts Brazil to a goalless draw last Tuesday thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Mexico coach Herrera opted to again leave Hernandez out of his starting line-up before the Manchester United star netted after coming on for the final 25 minutes.

The Mexicans had the best of the opening exchanges when Hector Herrera’s long-range shot beat Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa but thundered off the crossbar on 16 minutes.

Croatia fired in numerous crosses, but Mexico goalkeeper Ochoa was again solid between the posts.

After a goalless first-half, the Mexicans got the breakthrough when Herrera’s corner was powered home after Marquez out-jumped the defence on 72 minutes.

Croatia threw everything forward to find an equaliser, but left spaces at the back which Mexico exploited with their second goal just three minutes later.

Valencia’s Guardado finished off a lightning counter-attack on 75 minutes to leave Croatia on the ropes.

Mexico then grabbed their third when another Herrera corner was flicked on by Hector Moreno for Hernandez who nodded home at the back post on 82 minutes.

Perisic grabbed a late goal for Croatia when he converted Ivan Rakitic’s final pass just before Rebic was shown a straight red for taking out Carlos Pena a minute from time.

World Cup group stage scenarios

June 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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Goals, controversies, upsets, excitement – you name it, this World Cup has had it all in the last 11 days. Over 50 plus goals at an average of 3.06 per game this World Cup is only second to 1958 finals in Sweden which averaged 3.60 goals. Already 2010 world champions are knocked out while Costa Rica have survived the group of death which included Italy, Uruguay and England. Who would have thought? With just one match week to be played in the group stage before the round of 16 we look at the group stage scenarios. Who has made it, who will make the cut?

 

GROUP A

Qualified: None

Eliminated: Cameroon

Permutations: Brazil heads Group A by virtue of a better goal difference than Mexico with whom they drew their last group match.

Croatia lies third with three points with destiny in their hands. If they want to qualify they need to beat Mexico on Monday which would eliminate Mexico. If Mexico avoids defeat their qualification is guaranteed.

Brazil’s final group match is against Cameroon who are one of the worst in the tournament on and off the field. They wouldn’t have any trouble going past the Indomitable Lions and topping the group, but defeat could eliminate the home team.

Prediction: Brazil and Croatia to go through.

 

GROUP B

Qualified: Netherlands, Chile

Eliminated: Australia, Spain

Permutations: With six points from two matches Netherlands and Chile have booked a place in the round of 16. Netherlands has a goal difference of +5 against Chile’s +4.

Both side meet in their final group match with neither side wanting to finish second in the group and have the prospect of facing Brazil in the last 16 round. Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal was critical of FIFA’s scheduling of games, which he claimed would help Brazil avoid the Netherlands in the second round, as the home team play their last game after the Dutch.

Related: Brazil have World Cup work to finish Monday

For Spain it is a matter of pride when they face Australia who will be minus their ace striker Tim Cahill due to suspension. However Australia would want to finish on a high and send the 2010 World Champions to the bottom of the group.

 

GROUP C:

Qualified: Colombia

Eliminated: No one

Permutations: Colombia will need at least a draw against Japan to secure the top spot.

Ivory Coast, who will face Greece, will qualify with a win.

Greece, which has one point from two games could reach the last 16 if they beat Ivory Coast and Japan draw or lose to Colombia.

However if Japan and Greece both win then the second position will be decided on goal difference.

Prediction: Colombia and Ivory Coast to the last 16

 

GROUP D

Qualified: Costa Rica

Eliminated: England

Permutations: A do  or die match between Italy and Uruguay where a win or a draw for Italy would guarantee them of a place in the round of 16. For Uruguay a win is a must for qualification.

If Italy or Uruguay win and Costa Rica lose to England the top spot will be decided on goal difference. Currently Costa Rica has a +3 goal difference, with Italy on 0 and Uruguay on -1.

Prediction: Uruguay will join Costa Rica with a hard fought win against Italy

 

GROUP E

Qualified: France

Eliminated: Honduras

Permutations: France will head the group regardless of the result against Ecuador due the +6 goal difference against Ecuador’s 0. France is not guaranteed. Still an outside chance they can miss, if Ecuador beat them heavily and Switzerland beat Honduras heavily. But with the form they are in highly unlikely.

For Switzerland a big win is a must due to the 5-2 beating at the hands of France and hope France defeat Ecuador.

Ecuador needs a win too but if Switzerland draw against Honduras they could afford a draw as well  which will send them to the knockout stages on goal difference.

Prediction: Switzerland will ease past Honduras and France will aid the Swiss to make it to the knockout stage.

 

GROUP F:

Qualified: Argentina

Eliminated: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Permutations: Argentina faces Nigeria who are on 6 and 4 points respectively. Nigeria needs just a draw to qualify and a win would send them to the top of the group.

Iran has a chance if they beat Bosnia and Herzegovina and hope Argentina beat Nigeria while getting a two goal swing in their favour to qualify.

Prediction: A tricky one but will go with Nigeria because Iran doesn’t have the quality to get a two goal swing.

 

GROUP G:

Qualified: None

Eliminated: None

Permutations: All to play for in group G where Germany and the United States are on four points, and Ghana and Portugal are on one.

However Portugal’s poor goal difference of -4 would prove against them even if they beat Ghana.

A win for Germany or USA will send the winner to the round of last 16 while a draw would qualify both.

Ghana needs to beat Portugal and hope Germany defeat USA, while getting themselves a two goal swing as well. More if they want to qualify at the expense of Germany, if they lose to USA.

Prediction: Germany and USA

 

GROUP H:

Qualified: Belgium

Eliminated: None

Permutations: Belgium having already qualified faces bottom placed South Korea in their final match.

South Korea needs a big win against Belgium and need Russia to defeat Algeria to have any opportunity but their inferior goal difference would count against them.

Russia are the masters of their own destiny knowing a win is a must for qualification while Algeria needs at least a draw to secure a place in the round of 16.

Prediction: Algeria will join Belgium in the round of last 16

 

By Navodya Wijewickrama

Brazil held by feisty Mexico as Ochoa stands firm

June 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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(Reuters) – Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa produced a series of superb reflex saves to restrict Brazil to a 0-0 draw at the World Cup on Tuesday and deny the Brazilians their 11th victory in a row.

In an absorbing Group A match in the deafening cauldron of Fortaleza’s Castelao arena, Ochoa thwarted Paulinho, Neymar (twice) and Thiago Silva when they seemed certain to score.

He was the last Mexican player to leave the pitch to a standing ovation by thousands of green-shirted supporters before being named man of the match.

“We should congratulate their goalkeeper who performed at least four miracles,” Brazilian striker Fred said after a frustrating afternoon for the hosts who failed time and again to unlock a stubborn Mexican defence.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari described Ochoa’s performance as “spectacular”.

At the other end, the Mexicans had a few decent chances of their own in yet another entertaining game at this World Cup, and they could have snatched a victory had their long-range shots been more accurate.

Jose Vasquez, Hector Herrera and Miguel Layun all tried their luck with powerful drives from outside the box that zipped over Julio Cesar’s crossbar.

The draw ended Brazil’s 10-match winning streak, dating back to August when they lost to Switzerland in a friendly.

It also meant that to make the second round of the tournament both teams need points from their final group games on June 23 when Brazil face Cameroon in Brasilia and Mexico meet Croatia in Recife.

“There was a chance here, a chance there, it was very tight,” Scolari said. “It wasn’t a question of us evolving or not (from the last game). We’ve been playing this way 20 games, we are up against good teams, we need to understand that.”

 

CAUSING MISCHIEF

Brazil took control of the match from the outset with Marcelo and Oscar causing mischief down the left and Neymar showing bursts of brilliance when he drifted into the middle.

It was a Neymar header that forced the first of Ochoa’s “miracles”, the keeper scrambling across his line to beat the ball away at his right hand post.

Oscar floated a free kick into the box and Thiago Silva chested it down into the path of Paulinho with just the keeper to beat but again Ochoa got his body in the way and parried the ball to safety.

Brazil turned the screws after the interval against a Mexican side who have never beaten them at the World Cup and have failed to score a single goal against them in four meetings dating back to 1950.

With a passionate Brazilian crowd roaring them on, Neymar came close again, twisting inside his marker and firing in a left-foot shot which Ochoa blocked with his chest.

In the dying minutes Brazilian captain Thiago Silva looked certain to score with a point-blank header but again Ochoa was in the right place to beat the ball away.

Despite their setback, Brazil will be confident of booking their place in the last 16 by taking points from Cameroon.

The Mexicans, meanwhile, will feel their chaotic qualifying campaign is behind them and that they can get a point from Croatia to put them into the knock-out stages for the sixth consecutive World Cup.

 

Who will win the FIFA World Cup 2014?

  • Germany (42%, 104 Votes)
  • Brazil (20%, 49 Votes)
  • Argentina (19%, 46 Votes)
  • Netherlands (11%, 26 Votes)
  • Spain (2%, 6 Votes)
  • Other (2%, 6 Votes)
  • Portugal (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Italy (1%, 3 Votes)
  • France (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 245

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