Perhaps only one World Cup team could weave the phrases "scoreless tie" and "pulsating match" into the same sentence.
That would be Brazil, which customarily produces goals with assembly-line regularity. Mexico managed a 0-0 draw with a clear defensive strategy — leave multiple spike marks in Brazilian legs — as the sides remained tied atop Group A with four points apiece.
The Mexicans rang up seven fouls in the first 15 minutes, mostly on lashes to lower limbs, having been emboldened by lenient referee Cuneyt Cakir of Turkey. He did not start digging out his yellow card for infractions by the red jerseys until the second half — after applying it once in the first to Brazil.
Mexico ultimately was assessed a whopping 18 fouls, with two yellow cards. The Brazilians got swept up in the physicality and committed 13 themselves.
The chopping of legs somehow did not result in a choppy game. There were goal chances galore, the teams combining for 28 shots. Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was eventually the difference-maker for Mexico, making a handful of saves that will dominate the highlights of the game.
In the waning minutes, Brazil's Marcelo was roughed up while dribbling deep into the box. Cakir swallowed his whistle, unwilling to let a penalty kick determine the outcome. Marcelo might have scored anyway had he not started pleading for a penalty before the sequence was over.
Brazil's usually productive forwards with the four-letter names were unhelpful. Hulk, who injured his left leg in practice, was held out. Fred, ineffective, was lifted.
The tie does not damage Brazil's title prospects. But going scoreless? That would explain the four-letter words their devotees might use to sum up the game.