Mexico's keeper Ochoa played superbly: Brazil coach Scolari
Mexico
Mexico's Guillermo Ochoa (L) deflects the ball during a goal attempt by Brazil's Thiago Silva (top R) during their 2014 World Cup Group A soccer match at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza, June 17, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
AFP
Wednesday 18 Jun 2014
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Mexico coach Miguel Herrera said Ochoa had not been an automatic choice as number one goalkeeper. But he called the performance "incredible"

Mexico's Guillermo Ochoa produced one of the great World Cup goalkeeping performances on Tuesday denting hosts Brazil's confidence and boosting his own job chances.

The 28-year-old, who has no club, hurled himself across the goal to parry away a Neymar shot and kept out a point-blank header by Brazil captain Thiago Silva in an astounding game.

While the player nicknamed "Memo" took a lap of honour in the Foraleza stadium, admirers were likening his agility to Gordon Banks' miracle save for England in 1970 when he stopped a header by Brazil's legend Pele.

Ochoa, who keeps his curly-hair out of his eyes with a blue head band, said "undoubtedly it was the best match of my life."

Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari may give one of the top job references after the goalless draw slowed his side's advance on the second round of the World Cup.

"We had our chances but the goalkeeper played superbly," said Scolari.

"He is a very good goalkeeper who had a very good day and it is because of that we didn't win.

"He was spectacular, very calm and confident."

Ochoa is without a regular job as his two year contract with unfashionable French league side Ajaccio has ended. The team were relegated to the second division this season.

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera said Ochoa had not been an automatic choice as number one goalkeeper. But he called the performance "incredible."

His job with Ajaccio could have been in doubt after he was implicated in a doping scandal with four Mexico team-mates in 2011 just after his move to France. All tested positive for the anabolic steroid clenbuterol.

Ochoa protested his innocence but it left him in limbo for a year. He he was thrown out of the Gold Cup in June that year while waiting for the Mexican federation decided his fate. He was cleared.

They were lonely times for him and costly too as clubs of the stature of Paris Saint Germain and Manchester United dropped their interest in him. The unheralded Ajaccio got to keep hold of him.

Ochoa, who is in his third World Cup finals but only played his first game against Cameroon last week, stayed loyal to Ajaccio after he was cleared by the federation, which found that the players had eaten meat contaminated with the steroid. A similar excuse was used by Spain's two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador when he failed a test.

The World Anti-Doping Agency were not satisfied and appealed the decision but withdrew the move in October 2011 when they were allowed full access to the federation's findings.

"At Ajaccio I found the ideal conditions where I could feel at home," he said.

"It was the only club which held its hand out to me during the doping affair.

"Obviously that created strong bonds and I will never forget them," he said.

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