Guillermo Ochoa turned out a splendid performance at the Estadio Castelao on Tuesday, keeping a clean sheet in Mexico's 0-0 draw with Brazil.
The Mexico goalkeeper produced a flurry of show-stopping saves over the course of the match to hold Brazil scoreless in a World Cup game for just the third time since the 1998 final.
The draw sees the two nations improve to four points apiece, ensuring that they head into the final matchday at the Group A summit.
"A 0-0 is never a good result but it reflects how evenly contested this game was," Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said after the match. "This (team) continues to evolve, keeping the same system for the last 20 games. The team's doing well. People have to be aware that we're coming up against good-quality teams. Being on top of the group doesn't make this a good result, because we'd have qualified with a win, but we have to show respect for our opponents, who are a very good side."
The best chance of the opening period fell to Brazil in the 26th minute when Dani Alves delivered a superb cross to the back post that was met by Neymar's header, but the Barcelona man was denied by Ochoa's sprawling stop, perhaps the best save of the tournament thus far.
The Mexicans dictated play for much of the second half, growing in confidence as the match wore on, but Brazil was able to keep them in check by holding them to long-range efforts.
Brazil took back some momentum inside the final half-hour and nearly went in front in the 69th minute when Neymar settled a cross from Bernard and lashed a shot on frame, but Ochoa was equal to the task once again, parrying the attempt to safety.
Ochoa's heroics continued in the 86th minute when Neymar's cross was met by Thiago Silva, but the defender put his powerful header directly at the Mexico 'keeper, who was able to punch the ball away.
Mexico applied some late pressure with Andres Guardado collecting a short corner kick in the 90th minute and almost picking out the upper corner with a left-footed effort, but he ultimately saw his shot sail just over the crossbar.
The Mexicans were able to create another solid scoring opportunity just one minute later as Raul Jimenez uncorked a shot from the right side of the box. Julio Cesar was quick to react and did well to stop the shot, but he parried the ball directly into the danger area in the center of the box. Mexico, though, was unable to pounce on the rebound, preventing the CONCACAF nation from stealing all three points.
"We (the coaching staff) had a plan, but the credit must go to the players, who played a great game," Mexico coach Miguel Herrera said. "We picked up a point but we've not achieved anything solid just yet. We're in the group and battling it out for a place (in the next round), even with Brazil. We've still got another group game to play and, like always, we'll be going all out for the win."
Brazil and Mexico will close out the group stage on Monday with the five-time champions facing Cameroon and Herrera's men taking on Croatia.
Russia, South Korea share the spoils: Russia and South Korea scored in quick succession to share the spoils in a 1-1 draw in Group H action on Tuesday.
It was a dull affair with few scoring chances until the final stages when South Korea and Russia struck within six minutes of one another.
The Koreans took a fortuitous lead at the 68-minute mark when Lee Keun-Ho's shot from distance was bobbled by Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and turned into the back of the net.
It seemed as though the crippling nature of the howler would leave Russia with no way back, but Fabio Capello inserted veteran striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov in the 71st minute in a managerial masterstroke.
Kerzhakov made an instant impact on the game by leveling the score in the 74th minute, capitalizing on a scramble inside the six-yard box to turn in a loose ball as the Koreans failed to clear their lines.
There was a hint of a hand ball in the build-up to the goal, but the equalizer was allowed to stand and Russia left the Arena Pantanal with a valuable point.
The result sees South Korea and Russia fall two points back of Belgium for the Group H lead.
Both nations will return to action on Sunday with South Korea taking on Algeria at the Estadio Beira-Rio and Russia squaring off with Belgium at the Maracana.
Belgium rallies to defeat Algeria: Belgium avoided a disappointing defeat in its opening match of the World Cup, rallying from a one-goal deficit to get a 2-1 win over Algeria at the Estadio Mineirao on Tuesday.
Algeria took a shock lead after 25 minutes when Jan Vertonghen conceded a penalty kick, which Sofiane Feghouli converted with great ease.
But Belgium battled back with super-subs Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens scoring 10 minutes apart in the second half to hand the Red Devils a vital victory in the Group H opener.
It was a nightmare start for Belgium, the consensus dark horse of the World Cup.
Vertonghen was tracking back to deal with Faouzi Ghoulam's cross in the 24th minute but ended up conceding a penalty after he clattered into the back of Feghouli, who converted on the ensuing attempt to put the African nation in front.
The Red Devils controlled the match from that point forward but struggled to break down the organized Algeria defense.
Head coach Marc Wilmots made a few gutsy substitutions in an attempt to turn the tide in Belgium's favor, bringing on the likes of Mertens, Divock Origi and Fellaini for Nacer Chadli, Romelu Lukaku and Mousa Dembele, respectively.
The moves paid off in spades as Fellaini and Mertens scored in relatively quick succession to rescue Belgium and deliver the European nation all three points.
"The substitutions I made injected a bit of pace, which changed the game after the break," Wilmots said. "The players seemed like beaten men in the dressing room, but I told them that I was sure that we would score eventually. The points are in the bag, we've still got a long way to go, but we showed our strength of character."
Fellaini notched the equalizer in the 70th minute by getting on the end of Kevin De Bruyne's exquisite cross and sending a glancing header off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net.
The goal rejuvenated Belgium, and Mertens bagged the game-winner from an 80th- minute counter attack by taking Eden Hazard's pass to the right side of the box and hammering a shot past Rais M'Bolhi at the near post.
Algeria will attempt to rebound on Sunday when it takes on South Korea at the Estadio Beira-Rio.
Belgium will return to action against Russia at the Maracana, also on Sunday.
"I'm left with the disappointing feeling of having come close to achieving something great," Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic said. "The different level of experience was a key factor towards the end. The match came down to little things, really, as well as the talent of our opponents. Marouane Fellaini's goal was a case in point, as he's one of the world's best headers of a ball. We weren't far away from pulling off an upset. I'd talked about how effective the Belgians are at counter-attacking, and unfortunately that was confirmed on the pitch."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun