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International Friendly: Mexico 0 Nigeria 0

Mexico and Nigeria warmed up for their respective 2014 World Cup campaigns, with a 0-0 friendly draw in Atlanta.

It was a chance-filled affair at the Georgia Dome, with all three participating goalkeepers – Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico), Vincent Enyeama and Austin Ejide (Nigeria) – all producing strong saves to keep it goalless.

The first half was competitive, with both sides enjoying dominant periods, before the second half – as many friendlies do – turned into a substitute-fest, as coaches Miguel Herrera and Stephen Keshi gave some valuable game time to squad players ahead of their journey to Brazil in mid-year.

Nigeria were on top early, and created two great chances in the opening 15 minutes – only to be denied by Ochoa on both occasions.

Forward Emmanuel Emenike weaved through two Mexico defenders to get one-on-one with Ochoa, only for the on-rushing custodian to parry the strike from close range – much to the joy of the partisan Mexican crowd.

Moments later, Ochoa denied the African nation once more, as Ogenyi Onazi’s swerving, long-range strike was kept out by a great parry to the goalkeeper’s left.

Ochoa was busy again moments later, forced off his line to collect Michael Uchebo’s ball through targeted for Ahmed Musa – and the keeper earned a clip to the head for his efforts, as he collected the ball to clear the danger.

Mexico ground their way into the contest, and eventually had their first shot on goal when midfielder Luis Montes launched an effort over the crossbar.

However, their best chance of the half was a powerful header from captain Rafael Marquez, as the defender was denied only by a strong save from Nigeria goalkeeper and opposing skipper Enyeama.

Mexico forward Oribe Peralta had few chances to make a mark on the contest but almost produced a gem of a play on the half-hour mark.

Peralta won a header outside the penalty area and then lashed a strike on the volley, which only just went wide of Enyeama’s far post in what would have been a stunning opener.

Ochoa was again in the thick of the action, as he denied Musa with yet another close-range save – shutting down the midfielder on an acute angle in the 56th minute.

Nigeria’s substitute keeper Ejide then had his finest moment, diving low to his right to keep out a long-range strike to keep his sheet clean.

Mexico’s best chance of winning it, though, came eight minutes from time, when substitute Raul Jimenez was one-on-one with Ejide.

The Nigerian custodian was up to the task as he parried Jimenez’s on-target shot, with the save almost falling to another Mexico shirt.

Jimenez made the most of his 20 minutes on the park, and almost headed home a late winner moments later, only for his effort to go just wide of the upright.

Mexico are next in action on April 2 against the United States in Glendale, while Nigeria’s next fixture sees them take on Scotland on May 28.

Thu 6 March, 2014
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