Angola hold Mexico in drab goalless draw
HANOVER, June 17 (Reuters) Angola held Mexico in a dull 0-0 draw yesterday, leaving both teams still with a chance of qualifying for the World Cup second round from Group D.
Mexico striker Omer Bravo almost broke the deadlock with two minutes left but his close range shot from the right of the area hit the outside of the post. The Mexicans also hit the woodwork in the first half and had an effort cleared off the line.
Angola had to play the last seven minutes without midfielder Andre Macanga, who was sent off for a second bookable offence after unnecessarily handling the ball, but they hung on.
The draw takes Mexico on to four points, one ahead of Portugal, who play their second game against Iran today in Frankfurt. Angola have one point with Iran bottom on none.
Roared on by a 43,000 crowd dominated by their green and red clad fans, the technically and tactically superior Mexicans had poured forward in the second half, helped by a switch to a more attacking 4-3-3 formation just after the break.
But the African debutants defended in numbers and looked increasingly confident going forward as the game went on, without creating many clear-cut chances.
Mexico's Omar Bravo had a chance in the 66th minute when he was put clear by a defensive error only to fire straight at keeper Joao Ricardo.
Earlier, Angola defender Jamba cleared off the line from substitute Jesus Arellano after Ricardo saved from Mexico striker Guillermo Franco.
STRUGGLE UP FRONT The Mexicans started well but coach Ricardo La Volpe's five-man backline struggled to get forward fast enough to trouble an African team who defended deep from the start.
The first half's best chance fell to Franco, who picked up a loose ball in the box only to hit his shot straight at keeper Joao Ricardo from point blank range.
Mexico's captain and Barcelona centre back Rafael Marquez also smacked a free kick off the post in the 13th minute from just outside the area.
Angola again seemed awestruck and their first meaningful attack did not come until the 23rd minute, when Figueiredo fired a powerful right footer from about 20 metres just over the bar.
Lone striker and captain Akwa looked an isolated figure up front against Mexico's three central defenders until a switch in the second half. But he also went close after 32 minutes, heading over from Figueiredo's nicely-curled free kick.
REUTERS DH RAI0536