[BRAZIL 2014] Tuesday saw the best and worst goalkeeping of the World Cup. Indeed, you couldn't get two extremes like Mexico's Guillermo Ochoa with arguably the save of the tournament on Brazilian Neymar and RussianIgor Akinfeev, whose howler almost cost Russia its game against South Korea. Other winners included Concacaf and Belgium's supersubs. The day's big loser: Brazil.
GUILLERMO OCHOA. Until days before the World Cup, Mexico coach Miguel Herrera had not yet decided between Guillermo Ochoa and Jesus Corona for his starting goalkeeper, but he has certainly made the right decision. Ochoa had the game of the tournament so far for keepers, helping El Tri hold off Brazil with eight saves in the 0-0 draw in Fortaleza.
Ochoa's best stops were point-blank saves on Neymar (swatting his shot off the line) and Thiago Silva (open header late in the game). "I believe this was the best match of my life," he said, "because this was a World Cup game and this is very important,"
Memo won praise from both coaches. "I don't know whether I can think of another goalkeeper in memory ... someone who has done what Memo did today," Mexico coach Miguel Herrera said. "Memo today had high-level saves, gave the certainty to the team that we needed and gave confidence that we're well covered." Added Brazil coachLuiz Felipe Scolari, "He was spectacular."
CONCACAF.Mexico's 0-0 tie with Brazil keeps Concacaf at the top the confederation standings at the World Cup with an average of 2.0 points per game, ahead of South America at 1.85. Mexico has won and tied, the USA and Costa Rica won, and only Honduras lost its opening game.
POINTS PER GAME
1.85 South America (4-2-1)
1.46 Europe (6-6-1)
0.50 Asia (0-2-2)
SUBS.Belgium became the sixth team at the World Cup to come back after giving up the first goal when subs Marouane Fellainiand Dries Mertens scored late goals to give the Red Devils a 2-1 victory over Algeria. They are not the first subs to lead comebacks at the World Cup. Admir Mehmediand Haris Seferovic came off the bench to lead Switzerland past Ecuador, 2-1. Besides Mertens and Seferovic, the third sub with a winning goal at the World Cup is U.S. supersub John Brooks. (And it should be noted Alexander Kerzhakov had the Russian equalizer against South Korea.)
2014 Comeback Wins:
June 12: Brazil-Croatia3-1 (Neymar 29, pen. 71, Oscar 90+1)
June 13: Netherlands-Spain 5-1 (van Persie 44, 72, Robben 53, 80, de Vrij 64)
June 14: Costa Rica-Uruguay 3-1 (Campbell 54, Duarte 57, *Urena 84)
June 14: Ivory Coast-Japan2-1 (Bony 64, Gervinho 66)
June 15: Switzerland-Ecuador 2-1 (*Mehmedi 48, *Seferovic 90+3)
June 17: Belgium-Algeria 2-1 (*Fellaini 70, *Mertens 80)
BRAZIL.Brazil played one of its worst games ever when it had to settle for a 0-0 tie with Mexico. Adjectives that came to mind about the Brazilian performance included thuggish and sloppy -- not what you usually associate with jogo bonito. Brazil is all but assured of advancing to the second round, but it is hard to imagine it going far, especially with the Netherlands, Spain or Chile awaiting it in the round of 16.
IGOR AKINFEEV.The Russian keeper will have a hard time living down his howler in the second half of his team's match against South Korea. He let Lee Keun-Ho's shot slip through his hands and into the goal.Teammate Alexander Kerzhakov bailed him out with the tying goal for the Russians six minutes later.
GOALS.Tuesday produced the tournament's lowest-scoring day with only five goals in three games: 2-1 (Belgium-Algeria), 1-1 (Russia-South Korea) and the second 0-0 (Brazil-Mexico). It dropped the tournament average to below three goals per game to 2.88. That's still on course to be the highest average since 2.97 goals a game in 1970.
FENNECS.To his credit, Algeria's Bosnian coach, Vahid Halilodzic, said his players gave everything could, but that was after throwing them under the bus for their lack of fitness following Belgium's come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Fennecs. "I have a number of players who are rather limited," he said. "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."