WASHINGTON - Mexico held host and consensus World Cup favorite Brazil to a scoreless draw in an entertaining match Tuesday featuring the top two teams in Group A competition.
At Castelao arena in Fortaleza, Brazil repeatedly failed to penetrate a stubborn defense backed up by Mexico's goalie Guillermo Ochoa.
Brazilian superstar Neymar came close to breaking the deadlock in each half but was thwarted by Ochoa. Brazil's Paulinho and Thiago Silva nearly found the back of the net, too, while Mexico had some decent scoring chances.
The result left both teams with four points, the most in Group A, but Brazil is ahead on goal difference.
Group A rivals Cameroon and Croatia meet in Manuas on Wednesday. Last week, Brazil beat Croatia and Mexico beat Cameroon.
The draw ended Brazil's 10-match winning streak dating back to August.
"In the end, the 0-0 mirrors what happened, it was a very hard-fought match," Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "The draw wasn't a good result because a victory would have already allowed us to advance. But we need to be able to respect our opponent, which played very well."
Belgium rallies to beat Algeria
There were two Group H matches Tuesday.
Substitutes scored two late goals to lift Belgium to a 2-1 win over Algeria in the Belgians' first World Cup match in 12 years. Marouane Fellaini tallied the equalizer in the 70th minute and Dries Mertens scored 10 minutes later, as Belgium went on to win at Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte.
Algerian playmaker Sofiane Feghouli gave his squad a 1-0 lead with a 25th minute penalty, the Algerians' first World Cup goal in nearly three decades.
Belgium is among the favorites to win the tournament.
Also, Russia and South Korea played to a 1-1 draw at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba. South Korea took the lead in the 68th minute when Russian goalie Igor Akinfeev mishandled a catchable shot that found the net. But teammate Alexander Kerzhakov bailed him out a few minutes later after coming on as a substitute.
There are three matches on Wednesday. In Group B action, Australia plays the Netherlands and Spain takes on Chile. Cameroon and Croatia clash in Group A competition.
Chile hopes to derail Spain
Spain, the defending World Cup champion and the world's top-ranked team, suffered a shocking 5-1 loss to the Netherlands last week in the opening game for both teams.
Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta said his squad must forget about that loss and move on. Spain also lost its first match of the 2010 World Cup to Switzerland before advancing to win the title.
"We experienced a similar situation in the last World Cup," Iniesta said. "Now this is another scenario. Now there are two finals and we have to take the best of each to get the two wins and to be able to be in the next round. We don't have to think something else. I am confident we can do it because I think we have the squad to succeed."
Chile, which is coming off a 3-1 win over Australia, would take a giant step toward qualifying for the knockout round with a win over Spain and could eliminate the Spanish from the competition.
"I believe that there is never a good time to play against Spain," Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli said. "If we had the chance to play a good game and beat them, put them out of the World Cup? It would be a plus for us as a team. So motivation opens ways for us. If Spain will play like it is a final to avoid being put out of the World Cup, we'll play like it is a final for qualification."
Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.